Stakeholders in Lagos State have appealed to government at all levels to collaborate fully with private health practitioners to make primary health care the bedrock of the healthcare delivery system.
The stakeholders, who made the appeal in an interview with the News Agency of Nigeria in Lagos, also said collaborative efforts were required to ensure affordable and attractive primary healthcare in the state.
It could be recalled that the state government recently restated its commitment to ensuring that the Primary Health Centres (PHCs) as the foundation of a vibrant healthcare system were functional.
According to the state Commissioner for Health, Prof. Akin Abayomi, the state government has invested time to conduct a needs assessment on the PHCs infrastructure to provide evidence-based information for improvement.
Abayomi noted that with more than 325 PHCs in Lagos state, the government recognised that functional PHCs were the foundation of a vibrant healthcare system.
He also acknowledged that at least 60 per cent of PHCs in the state are not in a very desirable state.
Abayomi said the state has blueprints that would serve as the framework to transform all the PHCs.
“Construction will commence soon, and we believe that over the next three to four years, the PHCs will be transformed,’’ he said.
Similarly, the Association of Nigerian Private Medical Practitioners, urged the three levels of government to collaborate fully with private health practitioners to further enhance the primary healthcare delivery system.
The National President of the association, Dr. Kayode Adesola, who made the call in an interview with NAN in Lagos, noted that the partnership was critical to achieve universal health coverage and improved healthcare service delivery to citizens.
Adesola said most primary health centres in the country lacked critical equipment, poor facilities, shortage of skilled medical personnel, lack of power supply and ambulance services required to refer emergency cases to the state hospital, among others.
Adesola said the presence of private doctors was visible in all local government areas of the country.
He said they attended to over 70 per cent of the populace, noting that this should be leveraged upon by the government to bridge the gaps in the PHCs.
Adesola urged the Federal Government to prioritise the health sector, stressing that budget allocation to the sector should be increased to align with the 15 per cent Abuja Declaration to improve the sector.
Also, Alhaji Murisiku Akinsola, an activist, said an existing action plan of facilitating one PHC per ward across the country, should be backed by budgetary provision for such centres, from the local government.
Also, Mrs. Toyosi Adeyemi, a trader at Igbogbo, Ikorodu, said shortage of health personnel, especially doctors and nurses, was a major reason many people prefer to visit the secondary and the tertiary healthcare system.
“Most PHCs in Lagos work eight hours per day for five working days in a week. Only a few have the capacity for 24/7 operation.
“Bayeku Primary Healthcare Centre has a spacious compound but houses two small buildings which are inadequate for the large number of patients that visit the facility.
“Recently, my neighbour was rushed there in the evening and was admitted to the centre.
“However, a few hours later, she was withdrawn from the centre and taken to a private hospital due to the deplorable condition of the health centre- no light, mosquito infested rooms and bushes overrun the facility.
She said she felt unsafe and feared that her condition might worsen considering the environment.
“Most residents of Bayeku have shunned the centre. They visit Ikorodu General Hospital or the closest private hospital for care,’’ she said.
Adeyemi appealed to the Lagos State Government to ensure sustainable electrification and prioritise the upgrade of the centre to ensure access to affordable healthcare services for citizens.
In January, the state government, through the Lagos State Primary Health Care Board, unveiled the upgrade of 20 PHCs in the five divisions of the state to enhance quality healthcare services.
The government said the move was to fulfill its promise of infrastructure upgrade in alignment with the THEMES agenda, which represents health and environment.
The government said the upgrade would provide a conducive environment for both the health workers and patients and enhance delivery of healthcare services to communities.