Minister of Health, Professor Issac Adewole, on Tuesday, appeared before the Senate on the state of Federal Teaching Hospitals in the country.
The Senate had summoned the minister for a briefing following a motion raised during Wednesday’s plenary by David Umaru from Niger East, on the sorry state of teaching hospitals.
Mr Umaru cited a media report which detailed “widespread cases of poor electricity supply, obsolete medical equipment, and decayed infrastructure” in the hospitals.
He said: “Several stakeholders in the health sector have recently raised the alarm on the declining quality of services in Nigeria’s teaching hospitals amidst cases of overcrowding and lack of adequate funding and personnel necessary for optimal performance.
“Most teaching hospitals in Nigeria have been overstretched, forcing patients to sleep on the bare floor, plastic mats and other unhygienic conditions that put them at the risk of contracting other ailments.
“Patients with terminal illnesses such as cancer and kidney failure are now compelled to travel long distances to access chemotherapy and dialysis at very high cost due to the absence of the requisite medical equipment for such services within their vicinity.”
However, speaking before the Senate on Tuesday, Mr Adewole said, “We can compare it to a building; primary health as the foundation, the secondary as the wall and the tertiary as the roof.
“The problem we have is that the foundation is bad and the wall is weak and we are only concerned about the roof.
“If we invest in the Primary Health Care, a lot of people would not have a cause to go to the Tertiary.
“Your Excellency, I must commend you for approving the Basic Health Care Provision Fund. It is a game changer.
“We spent two years developing, and over the last two weeks, we’ve started to roll out.
“Twenty-two of our states have registered for the Basic Health Care Provision Fund.
“Our aim is to structure it in a way that money would flow from the Central Bank to the agencies.
“As of today, 14 states are yet to show interest in basic health care provision.
“We have two signatories to the account — the head of the community where it is located and the head of the facilities.
“Our aim is to offer free antenatal, free deliveries, screening for tuberculosis.
“I commend the Senate for the approval of the 1% primary healthcare inclusive in the Budget.
“Teaching hospitals cannot survive alone and in isolation. The State needs to partner with us so that secondary hospitals would be working.
“We believe that the issue of power supply should be looked into.”