Eyitayo Lambo Ex-minister decries decline in health sector, identifies strike as major challenge

Lambo also said poor attitude to work by health personnel, endemic corruption and fraud had also rendered service delivery in the sector ineffective.

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Striking Medical practitioners in Kenya protest play

Striking Medical practitioners in Kenya protest

(AFP/File)
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A former Minister of Health, Prof. Eyitayo Lambo, says unending rivalry and incessant strikes are antithetical to the health of the nation and Nigerians.

He also said poor attitude to work by health personnel, endemic corruption and fraud had also rendered service delivery in the sector ineffective.

Lambo spoke on Thursday, May 11, at a symposium entitled, “Health of the Nation: The Imperative of Inter-Professional Collaboration.’’

The symposium which held at the University of Lagos was organised by the Nigerian Academy of Pharmacy (NAPharm) in partnership with Pharmaceutical Society of Nigeria (PSN).

“Nigeria’s health system, according to a World Health Organisation report, is very weak; the country is 187 of the 191 countries in the world rated for poor health system.

“Unending rivalry which I call `beauty contest’ among health professionals instead of engaging in inter-professional collaboration is affecting the nation’s healthcare.

“Poor health workers’ attitude and incessant strikes with patients paying the price are serious challenges confronting the sector,’’ the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) quotes Lambo as saying.

Lambo, who called the shots in the ministry under the administration of ex-President Olusegun Obasanjo, however, called on health workers and professionals as well as their associations and unions to embrace inter-professional collaboration as a new culture to move the sector forward.

“The road to the new concept is a long one, but it is achievable. There is need for inter-professional education as well as knowledge and appreciation of the roles of other health professionals.

“Professionals do not trust themselves and there is superiority being lorded over one another.

“Throughout my tenure as minister, I worked towards putting an end to the rivalry that I call `beauty contest’ among the professionals – doctors, nurses, pharmacists, technologists etc.

“There is an urgent need for change-management process and collaboration as a better strategy,’’ said the ex-health minister.

Lambo stressed: “No one profession can deal with the complex demands of a patient, hence the need for coordination and collaboration.

“Collaboration will improve the care of patients and service delivery in the country.’’

He lamented the neglect of the achievements of the late Prof. Olikoye Ransom-Kuti, who according to him, gave the country one of the best health policies by defining the roles and responsibilities of the three tiers of government — primary (healthcare centres for local governments), secondary (hospitals for states) and tertiary (teaching hospitals for federal).

Lambo said that primary healthcare was the weakest as malaria and other cases that could be treated at PHC level were being taken to the hospitals daily.

“Primary healthcare delivery system is not working and it is the weakest. There is overcrowding in the hospitals for PHC cases like malaria.

In a message to the occasion, Health Minister, Prof. Isaac Adewole, said the success of inter-professional collaboration depended on the working together of the various professionals.

“Collaboration is not without its challenges; it should be included in undergraduate curriculum for professionals to imbibe it,’’ said the minister, who was represented by Mrs Gloria Chukwuma.

He pledged the support of the government to the actualisation of the concept in the overall interest of the nation’s health.

In his remarks, the President of NAPharm, Prince Julius Adelusi-Adeluyi, said the unhealthy rivalry among health professionals dated back to 1961, regretting that the nation had been unable to resolve the crisis.

He called for a new spirit of team work by all professionals in health facilities.

“Let us stop celebrating our differences, team work can stop a whole unstoppable forces; else, the distractions will continue,’’ said Adelusi-Adeluyi, who served as Health Minister under the short-lived Interim National Government of Chief Enest Sonekan in 1993.

He called for the setting up of inter-profession committee at the highest level of authorities to address the problem.

A former President, Nigerian Academy of Engineering, Mr Vincent Maduka, said Nigerians travelling abroad for medical treatment were only criticising the nation’s healthcare system.

“Nurses, doctors, pharmacists etc should be well paid to adequately take care of the patient’s health and the health of the nation.’’

He also harped on inter-professional collaboration in the sector being championed by pharmacists in the country.