Worried by the dismal health conditions of the poor in Nigeria, Pharm (Mrs) Bisi Bright, CEO of LiveWell Initiative (LWI), has called for immediate intervention from all stakeholders to prevent escalation of morbidity and mortality rates in the country.
Pharm. Bright made the call while speaking at a workshop organised by Pharmanews Limited, with the theme, “Health Care Entrepreneurship Workshop.”
The consultant clinical pharmacist and public health manager highlighted the poor health indices observed in the country to include 608 maternal mortality in every 100,000 births, compared to Ghana’s 409 and South Africa’s 237; high under-five and infants mortality; low life expectancy at birth; low adult literacy; low birth weight; non-conformity of many nursing mothers to exclusive breastfeeding, malnutrition and stunted growth among many others.
She attributed the disturbing statistics to inadequate health education, arguing that if majority of Nigerians were adequately furnished with health information, there would be drastic reduction in mortality rates in the country.
“Health literacy can be achieved through the informal sector, where it can be well organised with its own structure and hierarchies, which can be realised by reaching out in harmony to the community leaders, health care practitioners within the community, government officials, and government at all levels’’, Pharm. Bright pointed out.
Addressing the participants on the topic, “Elements of the emerging wellness industry”, Pharm. Bright explained the concept of wellness as being not merely the absence of disease but a complete state of physical, mental, social, emotional and psychological fitness.
While admitting that not all deaths are preceded by disease, the LWI boss emphasised that wellness promotion activities are designed to maximise the health of the community dwellers, while disease prevention is utilised to minimise the risk of disease and premature death.
Analysing the current state of the Nigerian health care system, she recommended better options of health care management for best outcomes. She noted that instead of exhibiting a nonchalant attitude towards health until there is an emergency or a life-changing diagnosis, there should informed choices, as well as informed decision-making.
She equally noted that in place of peer referral system and self-medication, there should be pharmaceutical care, promotive health care and public health care. She suggested that out of pocket health care spending be replaced with effective ‘pooling’ of health care services through microfinancing or health insurance, while individual is health responsibility must shift to collective responsibility, where individuals, communities, governments, employers and policy makers are all stakeholders.
Citing Burnside and Dollar (2000)’s submission as stated in The American Economic Review, Pharm. Bright stated the need for officials in the health sector to utilise internal and external funds judiciously for the benefit of the masses, as well as establish functional institutions and policies, adding that anything short of this would keep up the status quo.
“Not all aid is intended to generate economic growth,” she said. “Some aid is intended for humanitarian purposes; some may simply improve the standard of living of people in developing countries. The impact of aid on GDP growth is positive and significant in developing countries with sound institutions and economic policies, while aid has less or no significant impact in countries with “poor” institutions and policies.”