Healthcare in Nigeria is poorly managed because of the inability of the Government to prioritize this sector. For instance, the healthcare sector receives less than 5% of the annual budget.
Problems Facing Healthcare Management in Nigeria
In this post, we take a look at some of the major problems facing healthcare management in the country.
1. Corruption in Healthcare
Just like the other sectors in the country, corruption also affects the healthcare sector. In fact, it is said that the healthcare sector is the third most corrupted branch of the country.
There have been cases of mismanagement of funds in the health sector. In 2018, it was reported that the Executive Secretary of the National Health Insurance Scheme, Prof. Usman Yusuf, had been fingered in a N860 million fraud. Furthermore, Yusuf was accused of lopsided employment and fraudulent change in the designation and nomenclature of General Manager to “Head” to circumvent extant laws establishing the NHIS.
2. Sub-standard Educational System
The Nigerian Education System is has been deteriorating over the years, and medical education hasn’t been left out.
Medical education in Nigeria can be traced to the pre-independence era when the University College Hospital, Ibadan was established as a College branch of the University of London in 1948. Since then four generations of medical schools have evolved.
The newer medical schools adopted the curriculum of the older schools with little modification. The subsequent introduction of changes and modification in the curriculum of medical education worldwide did not seem to affect Nigerian medical schools.
However, the training of the teachers in educational methods for medical educators has not been introduced, nor has there been any curriculum planning or review. There have been efforts made regionally and nationally to change the medical curriculum and improve the quality of medical training but these efforts have not produced the desired results.
The agencies regulating medical education in Nigeria are the National Universities Commission and the Medical and Dental Council of Nigeria. These bodies introduced separate curricula for medical schools, as a guide to minimum standards, but there has been so far a varying degree of compliance by the Universities.
Additionally, there is a need to assess the medical school faculty in order to determine how the training of teachers and subsequently students should be done.
3. Lack of human resources
Every year, doctors leave the shores of Nigeria and relocate to foreign countries. There are two basic reasons why these healthcare professionals leave the country: better exposure to sophisticated equipment and better remuneration.
Currently, there are over 8000 doctors in the U.S and an estimated 50% of doctors trained in Nigeria are currently practising abroad.
It was reported by a popular newspaper in Nigeria that over 35,000 Nigerian doctors have left Nigeria with the U.K and the U.S as their destinations.
Nigeria has been unable to hold down its healthcare professionals because of the government’s inability to provide these doctors with the necessary resources to enjoy their medical practice in the country. Currently, the country has over 70000 doctors catering for the 180 million Nigerians. However, it was discovered that only 35000 doctors are currently practicing in the country. This means the doctor to patient ratio is 1:5000 which is far above the WHO recommendation of 1 doctor to 600 patients.
Additionally, there is the challenge of rural-urban migration of doctors which has left rural areas without medical expertise. About 70% of these doctors practice in the urban areas while 30% practice in the rural area.
Based on this challenge, there is the need to bridge the gap in the health sector as the government needs to encourage specialization in necessary specialty areas and also regulate specialist training for Nigeria. New programs need to be introduced such as work injury prevention programs so that all healthcare professionals can receive the proper guidance. You can Check This Out for more detail about brain injury.
Apart from doctors, other healthcare professionals like nurses, pharmacists, and other allied professionals are also leaving in their droves because of the experience offered by developed countries.
4. Inadequate budget
In April 2001, heads of state of African Union countries met and pledged to allocate at least 15% of their annual budget to improve the health sector but 17 years after, only a few of these countries have met this target.
Generally, expenditure on healthcare in Africa can be divided into three categories. These include government spending (which goes into directly supplied healthcare services as well as towards national health insurance schemes); private spending (which is split between out-of-pocket payments for health care services at the point of delivery and private health insurance) and external sources.
The healthcare budget in Nigeria is less than 5% of the total budget of the country. The budget allocation for 2017 was 4.15%, although this was a marginal improvement on the 3.73% of 2016. No doubt, the goal of universal health coverage through the National Health Insurance Scheme (NHIS) for Nigerians cannot be met with such a spending plan. As a result, private spending has continued to take a large chunk of the healthcare spending with over 70% of this coming from the pocket of individuals.
5. Inadequate diagnostic equipment and medications
It is one thing to gain access to a healthcare facility and it’s another to leave with all you need.
Often times, patients visit the clinic and they aren’t properly attended to because of the inadequacies in the equipment and medications department.
In 2017, it was revealed in a report that the Aso rock clinic lacked basic medical equipment and drugs to treat patients.
Generally, the problem of obsolete equipment and lack of medications is quite rampant in all the facets of healthcare in the country. For instance, many of the primary healthcare centres in the country are unable to provide patients with basic diagnostic services and medications.
Also, there are situations where patients in need of diagnostic equipment are placed on a waiting list because of the limited number of equipment.
The lack of these facilities has contributed to the brain drain as many Nigerian doctors practising in foreign countries have cited the inability to use of modern-day sophisticated equipment as one of their reasons for leaving the country.
There are also issues of equipment in the secondary and tertiary hospitals. Some of these centres don’t have incubators for babies and doctors have to create makeshift incubators just to save the lives of these children.