Thursday, 20 June 2013

Nigerian Minister of Health delivers his midterm report - judge for yourself

In his recent widely publicized "midterm report", our President, Dr Goodluck Ebele Azikiwe Jonathan, GCFR, BNER, GCON barely mentioned the health sector, other than a few references to the "achievements" of his SURE-P programme. So, we were excited when we gathered that our Minister of Health, Professor C. Onyebuchi Chukwu was asked to brief the press on the achievements of his Ministry. Much credit must be given to the Ministry of Information, that has put this session in its entirety online for Nigerians to watch and judge for themselves.

If you read this blog - please share the link! Our leaders often accuse us of ignorance, but now we have the tools, we must use them!

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....

So, what exactly has been "transformed" in the health sector? This is what the Minister reported: 

  1. The Midwifery Scheme: a well intentioned vertical programme to support primary health clinics. 
  2. 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
  3. The Community Based Health Insurance SchemeMinister provided no coverage data.
  4. The Nigerian Centre for Disease ControlMinister provided no data on their activities.
  5. 60 Nigerian doctors sent abroad last year for training - Yes...60. 
  6. New policy on oral health (championed by Senator David Mark - he added!)
  7. New National Drug Distribution policy.
  8. New National Health Bill ..(yes, the same one) being "reconsidered"
  9. Obafemi Awolowo University now doing laparoscopic surgery
  10. New National Trauma Centres ...almost completed. 
  11. Open Heart Surgery has re-started in UNTH, Enugu.
  12. Several hospitals can now do kidney transplants, and joint replacements.
  13. 4 years - no case of guinea worm.
  14. Distributed 58 million mosquito nets.  
  15. NAFDAC is now using their brain (not my words!), they have gone digital!
  16. New template for training medical professionals. 
  17. Herbal medicine will be introduced in Nigerian medical schools. 
The entire speech contained almost no data - no burden of disease data, no data on targets, no data on impact and no data on costs. The speech was filled with anecdotes....and lots of use of phrases - "we are doing well", ..."we are working". The Honourable Minister implored members of the press to go round themselves to see the many blessings of Mr President's transformation agenda.

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....

And while you are it, please do watch 2 fascinating sessions with the Minister for Agriculture, and the Minister for Finance. At least it gives us some comparison to how his colleagues delivered on their own feedback sessions.

You be the judge....


tarry2020 said...

For a specialized Blog such as yours - I do not think it is for your readers to judge the progress made in the health sector based on targets set for the Transformation Agenda. In the first place your readers may want to be reminded on what the Transformation Agenda intended to achieve in the health sector; and then hope that you can use the data provided by the Minister to make an informed analysis that helps them to see if there is indeed progress as planned or what is being reported is out of sync with the Transformation Agenda itself. If the latter is the case (which appears so from my own observation), then the Minister has failed the President that appointed him; while he has at the same time taken the citizens of the country (to whom he is accountable to) for granted.

Ken Nwosu said...

Where is the substance? Don't even talk about the style!

ICONDAVE said...

Many Nigerians experience the pains of the incessant strikes by health workers, hospitals are not upgraded-save d private ones where people pay off their noses. At any slight headache, you hear this and this politician has been taken abroad..its time for youths to open their eyes and see. This tells u the calibre of leaders we have - sometime ago we made fun of 'my oga@d top', but I tell u, there are many politicians worst than the NSDC comptroller who didn't even know the agencies website! Let's look out for quality leaders