Opinion: Taking advantage of the covid-19 intervention to revamp the health sector

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2020 will go down in history as the year the healthcare system of Nigeria felt the weight of a global pandemic. The last time it would have felt such was in 2014 during the Ebola outbreak, but the country escaped with minimal casualty. This time, Coronavirus not only infected millions across the world, it has claimed thousands of lives.

Combating, curbing and containing the spread of the virus in the country, the Presidential Task Force on Covid-19 set up by President Muhammadu Buhari, and headed by the Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF), Boss Mustapha, has done a fairly good job ensuring that the virus is contained and casualties are limited.

In spite Nigeria having less than a thousand casualties, the PTF on Covid-19 is doing not a bad job. The PTF on Covid-19 comprising of various MDAs have expanded covid-19 testing, train health workers in handling infectious diseases, developed public health Protocols amongst other interventions clearly shows that a working healthcare system is feasible in Nigeria.

Over the years the Nigerian healthcare system has been poorly developed and has suffered several setbacks especially at the Local Government Levels. There are no adequate and functional surveillance systems, the systems lack tracking system to monitor the outbreak of communicable diseases, bioterrorism, chemical poisoning amongst others.

The covid-19 pandemic did not only expose the dearth in the system, it only states the obvious, the healthcare system is crippled. In spite this there are silver linings in the sky.

It is however important that the government at all level dedicate sincere commitment to the improvement of the healthcare system in the country. First the federal government must as fundamental show commitment to the Abuja Declaration and commit 15percent of its annual budget to healthcare system. The various isolation centres, aside school premises should be converted to health facilities and upgrade to provide care for infectious diseases.

It is also important that government both at the federal and state level commit to Research and Development to combat infectious diseases and other health issues that may come up in the future.

It is of note that government at the local level should be encouraged to commit and shoulder responsibility in healthcare provision especially in phytomedicine and phytotheraphy. Primary Healthcare Centres (PHCs) should be funded and equipped to care for emergency cases.

We hope that the healthcare system in Nigeria will come out of this pandemic healthy and better equipped.

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