Health Dialogue: 3,400 Nigerians lose their lives daily to preventable diseases, ….. Participants decry

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By: Joy Odor/Kaduna

To achieve Universal Health Coverage (UHC) some key factors must be in place such as strong efficient well-run health system that meets priority health needs through people-centered integrated care including services for HIV, tuberculosis, malaria, non-communicable diseases, maternal and child health and malnutrition.

This was made known to newsmen at the National Health Dialogue with the theme: “Challenges and Prospects of Universal Health Coverage in Nigeria put together by Ptcij, Premium Times, PACFaH, Project PinkBlue and supported by Bill Melinda Gates Foundation in Abuja.

In his remark, the Minister of Health, Professor Isaac Adewole said health is a basic human right that is not negotiable, saying government is working towards a goal that 80% of the populace will have access to health services near their houses.

He urged the media to work closely with the health ministry in the task for universal health service delivery. “Health is a priority but we are not there fully”.

“Over 180 million people, Nigeria is a huge country with huge potentials. This has been driven by high fertility rate the country is blessed with. We need therefore to use this as a yard stick to change the phenomena and change the population pyramid of the country so as to have more than defenders.

In his speech at the occasion, the Vice President, Professor Yemi Osinbanjo said the government of President Muhammadu Buhari is interested in the healthcare of all Nigerians even though he emphasized that poverty in the country is a major issue that should be given necessary attention.

Represented by the Director General, Voice of Nigeria (VON), Mr. Osita Okechikuw, Profession Osinbanjo disclosed that many citizens are hypertensive because of uncontrollable hate speeches and intolerance in the country, this he also described as a health issue that must be addressed.

“I challenge all state to join the Federal Government to ensure Universal Health Coverage become a reality. I hereby disclosed that the present government is committed to providing quality health service delivery for Nigerians   and that is why we are supporting this dialogue”.

Also at the Dialogue, the role of the media in HUC was also extensively deliberated upon as they play a vital role in informing, educating and enlighten the populace on the need to stay healthy and prevent illness.

Contributing, the Executive Secretary of National Primary Healthcare Development Agencies Dr. Faisal Shaibu said 3,400 Nigerians lose their lives on daily base to preventable diseases and nobody seems to be concerned.

The Project Director of Civil Society for Scaling Up Nutrition in Nigeria, Mrs. Beatrice Eluaka said 2,300 children die daily from preventable diseases. “Half of this death is caused by malnutrition. Those who survive are just 33%. This means that in every 3 children, one is stunted and stunting affects the growth and development of the human brain.

“We have developed a policy to tackle malnutrition in collaboration with PACFaH and the Federal Government to make sure the policy is achieved and giving credence to this.

While the Project Director PSN-PACFaH, Pharm Ayuba Tanko Ibrahim expressed dismay that one in every 8 children in Nigeria die before their 5th birthday.

“When you look at it you will see that 236,000 children will die every year from preventable deaths of pneumonia and diarrhea. We are happy to tell you that the government commitment in tackling pneumonia and diarrhea.

“We are happy to tell you that the government has reviewed the essential treatment guideline to include treatment of children for pneumonia and diarrhea. It took 6 years before the review could be done after the WHO released the guideline. We are joining the government to review this guideline across the country so as to reduce childhood killer disease to drive down child mortality to a single light”.

Mr. Bayo Onanuga Managing Director, News Agency of Nigeria said “it is time that Civil Society Organizations and other stakeholders in the Health Sector partners in Media in their activity by assimilating them into the system, according to him it is not enough to invite Journalists for coverage alone but rather they should be adequately trained and equipped on the UHC.

And Mr Dapo Olorunyomi, Publisher/CEO Premium Time, tasked the media practitioners to educate them in the Health System, especially the process, terminology and operation. This according to him is the only way the media can perform their role by being the voice of the voiceless.

The primary goal of the Universal Health Coverage (UHC) is to ensure that all people obtain the health services they need without suffering finance hardship while paying for them. In the simple definition of the United Nation, Universal Health covering is access to health services without hardship.

The UHC has a direct impact on population’s health because it enables people to be more productive and active contributors to their families and communities.

Going down history lane, the UHC came into place in 1948 when the World Health Organization (WHO) declared that health is a fundamental human right. The 1978 declaration also stated that health is paramount. This means that countries need to track progress not just across the national population but within different groups (e.g. by income level, sex, age, place of residence, migrant status and ethnic origin).

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