The Nigerian Senate on Thursday adopted a motion seeking additional funding for Primary Health Care centres across the country.
In a motion sponsored by Senator Oluremi Tinubu representing Lagos Central Senatorial district and 108 others, she said that primary health care in Nigeria, which was adopted in 1998 by National Health Policy as means of providing health services to rural dwellers, has collapsed.
Relying on the World Health Organisation (WHO) indicator, the lawmaker said Nigeria’s health care facilities have low performance in the world.
She added a corroborative index by the World Bank that the primary health in Nigeria was underfunded, noting that the situation has brought about infrastructural deficit.
Tinubu expressed concern over the condition of the primary health care centres, adding that people at the grassroots need to have access to health care.
“Concerned that a lot of the problems in Nigeria’s Health sector can be traced to low performance of our Primary health care facilities. According to the World Health Organisation (WHO), Primary Health Care will meet 80-90% of a person’s health needs over the course of time,” she said.
Senator Chimaroke Nnamani representing Enugu East Senatorial District attributed the woes in the nation’s health sector to neglect by the government.
“Some of Nigeria’s health centres are orphans and nobody is laying claim to its ownership,” he said, pointing out that primary health care was supposed to be used as “nexus for integrated health services”.
Senator Rochas Okorocha representing Imo West Senatorial District called for free primary health care services as people at the grassroots could not afford to pay for services rendered to them.
He said, “Primary health care is meant for people at the rural areas who cannot afford medical attention.
“Government should make primary health services free, because the Constitution provides for government to protect lives and properties.”
Former governor of Kebbi State, Senator Adamu Aliero, attributed the collapse of primary health care in Nigeria to the hijack of funds by the State Governors, but his counterpart, Senator Matthew Uroghide representing Edo North insisted that there was no synergy among the three tiers of government.
Uroghide further argued that funding was different from administration of health care centres, saying that it was time that both should be separated in order to have health care centres back.
“We need to draw a line between funding and administration of Primary health care. There is the misunderstanding that primary health care is a responsibility of the local government. Even tertiary health institutions have primary health care centres.”
In his remarks, the Senate President, Ahmad Ibrahim Lawan emphasised that government should revive the ailing health care centres, noting that this was important to Nigeria constituents.