A REPORT by the Corporate Accountability and Public Participation Africa (CAPPA) has revealed that healthcare services are substantially underfunded in Nigeria.
The report titled ‘The Failure of Commercialised Healthcare in Nigeria During the COVID-19 Pandemic’, was launched on Wednesday in Lagos.
It stated that health spending as a share of general government expenditure decreased from 7.3 per cent in 2006 to as little as 4.4 per cent in 2018.
“Since the first COVID-19 case was confirmed on 27 February 2020, the West African country (Nigeria) has been struggling to guarantee the right to health of all, amidst shortages of accessible health facilities, medical staff and drugs. Unfortunately, this was to be expected, as the flaws of Nigeria’s healthcare system predate the pandemic. Healthcare services are severely underfunded,” the report said.
It also explained that less privileged people in the country faced several socio-economic, geographical, information and technological barriers in accessing healthcare services, including during the pandemic.
The report, which drew its basis from urban informal settlements in Lagos and Port Harcourt, as well as from academic literature, news and interviews with individuals living in poverty, concluded that Nigeria was largely unprepared to respond adequately to the current pandemic.
The Executive Director CAPPA, Akinbode Oluwafemi, who made a virtual presentation during the launch, stated that healthcare delivery had been in a shambles since the Structural Adjustment Programme (SAP) period.
Oluwafemi explained that the report opened the underbelly of the systemic failure of the Nigerian healthcare system pre-COVID-19, during COVID-19 and post COVID-19.
What consists of healthcare today, he noted, is a total decay of the public healthcare system, with 60 per cent of it being handled by private concerns.
“Our concern is that health is a human right guaranteed by the Nigerian Constitution and accessibility and affordability of good healthcare should not depend on your social-economic status.
“More and more in this country, if you don’t have money, you can’t access quality healthcare, and that takes us to the COVID-19 era where there were shortages of hospitals, masks, gloves, ventilators, water and soap, to the point of shortage of testing facilities. Then, we had private laboratories collecting a killing to conduct testing, as well as the use of fake reagents.”
Oluwafemi noted that several promises made by the government have not been fulfilled.
“These are very critical issues that the report looked at and it shows that the private sector cannot give us access to a healthy Nigeria,” he said.
Also speaking at the event, the Program Officer for the Right to Health at the Global Initiative for Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (GI-ESCR) Rosella De Falco, explained that the Nigerian healthcare system was marred by discrimination and inequality.
She added that lack of available public healthcare services, weak regulation and monitoring, and low quality of private health providers affected the entire value chain in the sector.
De Falco said, “There has been a progressive commercialisation of the healthcare system in Nigeria since 1984 when amidst a larger economic crisis, Nigeria started experiencing shortages of drugs, reagents and personnel.
“Amidst the financial crisis, the government introduced social cuts, including to the health budgets, which was compensated for by the introduction of user fees at government-run facilities, including as part of the structural programmes required by the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund.”
The Director of Programs, CAPPA, Philip Japor, stressed the need for the government to increase the budget of the health sector to 15 per cent, as recommended by De Falco.