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The comical nature of the banter that opened the Honourable Minister’s feedback session was uncomfortable to say the least. It felt like a nursery school teacher addressing his 5 year old pupils. He started off by asking the journalists present; …”is prevention better than cure?”…then asking those “not sick” in the room to clap for themselves! The journalists present duly responded….and clapped. With a smirk on his face, the Honorable Minister concluded that the clapping of hands indicated that his Ministry had done well on prevention, which is, as he had noted, “better than cure“! There’s the evidence! The straw polls continued throughout the session! While this approach to communication may be appropriate for a small dinner table conversations, this is definitely not the case in an important formal feedback session on progress of two years of using taxpayer’s funds for a sector that is so important to Nigerians, especially one that will be transmitted to the rest of the world and be available online forever.
Watch the entire session here!
To start his formal feedback, the Honorable Minister reminded Nigerians that the Federal Government was only directly responsible for 56 hospitals, and the rest of the sector was in the control of the state and local governments as well as the private sector. Then he went on to severally praise Mr Presidents’s “Transformation Agenda” in the health sector….
- The Midwifery Scheme: a well intentioned vertical programme to support primary health clinics.
- The “Saving 1 million lives initiative”: another well intentioned vertical programme using funds “recovered”from previous petrol price subsidization to support maternal and child health.
- The Community Based Health Insurance Scheme – Minister provided no coverage data.
- The Nigerian Centre for Disease Control – Minister provided no data on their activities.
- 60 Nigerian doctors sent abroad last year for training – Yes…60.
- New policy on oral health (championed by Senator David Mark – he added!)
- New National Drug Distribution policy.
- New National Health Bill ..(yes, the same one) …is being “reconsidered”
- Obafemi Awolowo University now doing laparoscopic surgery
- New National Trauma Centres …almost completed.
- Open Heart Surgery has re-started in UNTH, Enugu.
- Several hospitals can now do kidney transplants, and joint replacements.
- 4 years – no case of guinea worm.
- Distributed 58 million mosquito nets.
- NAFDAC is now using their brain (not my words!), they have gone digital!
- New template for training medical professionals.
- Herbal medicine will be introduced in Nigerian medical schools.
How “transformative” the above points are, we will leave readers to judge for themselves. Nigerians will decide how well our Ministry of Health has done, and how their lives have been affected. It is a democracy after all….
Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful committed people can change the world; indeed it is the only thing that ever has…Margaret Mead