A former Minister of Health, Prof. Isaac Adewole, has called on Federal Government to adequately prepare the nation’s healthcare system against the second wave of COVID-19 pandemic.
Adewole made the call on Tuesday in Lagos, while speaking as a Guest Speaker at the Seventh Annual Public Lecture organised by the Foursquare Gospel Church in Nigeria.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the public lecture entitled: “Health & Wealth – The Global Impact” was organised to mark the 65th Convention of the Church in Nigeria.
Adewole said: “I am not a prophet of doom, but there will be another pandemic.
“We cannot continue to rely on luck, just like what happened during the Ebola outbreak.
“This present pandemic was predicted some years back, and we failed when the World Health Organisation (WHO) came to examine our readiness for any pandemic; we actually scored 42 per cent.
“So, funding of the healthcare must be total and the states must also be funded, because most of our states are very poor.”
Adewole, while commending the church for coming up with a topic that was relevant to the country, said Nigeria needed to have a resilient healthcare system in place.
“I am an unrepentant advocate of good healthcare system and proper funding, and what is unique about this topic is the relevance to Nigeria.
“The relationship between health and wealth is complex, interconnected and intimately related.
“That is why policy makers all over the world are under pressure to increase spending on health, and that is why we need to have a resilient healthcare system in place.
“What happened in the developed countries shows that they are vulnerable, and if they are vulnerable, that means we are more vulnerable.
“But, as regard COVID-19, God has been kind to us in this country.
“This is because we would not have been able to cope with the severity of what were experienced in some other countries, so there is an unseen hand,” he said.
The former minister, however, called for the reversal of the roles of healthcare institutions in the country.
According to him, most Nigerians don’t have any business going to a teaching hospital to seek for medical care, because 80 per cent of ailments can be handled in our primary healthcare centres.
“The pyramid needs to change, 10 per cent should go to the secondary healthcare facilities, while only those referred to the teaching institutions should go there for care,” he said.
Also, Mazi Sam Ohuabuwa, President, Pharmaceutical Society of Nigeria (PSN), Chairman at the programme, said that the wealth of any nation could not be determined without the health of the people.
Ohuabuwa said that the country over the years failed to pay adequate attention to the health sector.
He explained that the nation’s economy would witness growth, if the health sector was given the due attention it needed to thrive.
“Any country that takes health seriously is ready to develop; if this country’s economy must grow, health must be given its primary place.
“Health is our individual right; the government’s job is to motivate us, get health insurance working and make it compulsory for all citizen.
“Health contributes to only two per cent of Nigeria GDP, while in countries like America and UK, it is 24 per cent and 10 per cent respectively,” he said.
According to him, nobody can provide explanation for the mild impact of COVID-19 compare to what is being experienced in America and Europe.
“God came to our rescue and the rescue of Africa as a whole; it is only the grace of God that exempted us as a nation and continent from the devastating deaths we are seeing in other climes.
“I am a scientist, but I strongly believe that God should be given His due honour; because He has exempted us from picking dead bodies from the streets because of what was predicted about Africa,” he said.
In his remarks, Gov. Babajide Sanwo-Olu of Lagos State, restated the state government’s commitment to increase investment in the health sector.
Sanwo-Olu, represented by Prof. Akin Abayomi, the state Commissioner for Health, noted that human capital was the major wealth of any nation.
He thanked the Churches for their roles and prayers in the ongoing pandemic, pointing out that the impact was greatly felt.
“The current Government in Lagos State is committed to improve healthcare delivery across all strata of the society, and we are reassuring our people on this.
“Gone are those days when people see natural resources as the only wealth of a nation, the attention has also shifted to human capacity.
“Building human capacity starts from where a woman conceived, after birth and the mental development of children as they grow; so, the growth of an economy is not only based on natural resources.
“COVID-19 has taught us that a good healthcare system is the prowess of any nation, and it is also a critical component of any nation’s economy,” the governor said.
He said that the state government would continue to increase its budgetary allocation to the sector to further improve its healthcare delivery.
Earlier, Rev. Sam Aboyeji, the General Overseer of the church, noted that the lecture was germane to everyone owing to the advent of COVID-19 pandemic.
Aboyeji said that churches had contributed immensely, as a body of Christ, toward ending the current pandemic.
He urged Christians not to relent in their prayers for the growth and development of the country.
According to him, there is a closer link between health and the wealth of any nation as a whole.
“This lecture is the seventh in the series of lectures we started some years back to discuss and address certain issues that are germaine to our everyday life and as a member of the body of Christ.
“Nigeria is blessed with immense human capacity, and we seek a country that is strong, vibrant and good for all.
“As an organisation in the body of Christ, we will continue to pray and contribute our parts to ensure the health and wellbeing of Nigerians, because we have seen the impact of prayers in this pandemic,” he said. (NAN)