It is near impossible today to get any information on policy and strategy, disease prevalence, organisational structure, or contact information
without physically walking through corridors of the Federal Secretariat and asking a kind official to manually search files, or by writing a formal request through the "ever efficient" NIPOST.
How do we empower people to ask for health if there is no access to the most basic information? How do we empower health professionals to engage with the health sector when there is no information on the services provided.
Ok yes, but this is Africa, internet access is slow, power is erratic and who really cares. We are after all the Giant of Africa!
But is Ghana not in Africa?
OK yes, but it is "small" and easily manageable.
OK...what of South Africa?
Stop always comparing us to South Africa, they are not at our level in development terms...
OK..but what of Kenya, Botswana, even Malawi ...we could go on and on?
Ok, OK...we are "trying"...
Where the Federal Government has faltered, some state governments have picked up the gauntlet. Akwa Ibom for instance ...ok it is not great, but it is something. Same with Ogun State, with the ever present picture of the Otunba, and Ekiti State. The MOH in Lagos State also seems to have a site but in popular Nigerian Internet parlance...it is "down". :)
Also where the Ministry has faltered some of its parastatals have stood out...
As usual the website of the National Agency for Food and Drug Administration and Control (NAFDAC), stands out. Simple, informative and user friendly.
The National Agency for the Control of AIDS in Nigeria, NACA has a relatively good website, although when you click on "National programmes and activities" it tells you that "THIS SECTION IS UNDER DEVELOPMENT & WOULD BE AVAILABLE SHORTLY".
Try searching for the National Primary Health Care Development Agency (NPHCDA) - Nigeria....which has been building the famous "virtual" primary care centres around the country for the past 8 years of the previous government. For all its good work, the National Programme for Immunisation (NPI) was recently merged with NPHCDA (sorry no websites). Maybe there it might be better not to have one than to tell us how many of our children have been vaccinated for measles!
There were some surprises in my search for good public sector websites on health in Nigeria, one was that of National Health Research Ethics Committee.
However some good news, what the government fails to do, the not-for-profit private sector has taken up and is delivering in many areas. This will be the focus of a different blog. But the Ministry of Health must rise to its resppnsibilities...Nigerians are hopeful!