Former Secretary-General of Commonwealth Chief Emeka Anyaoku on Sunday underscored the need for government at all levels to strengthen medical institutions in their domains.
Chief Anyaoku made this known during the celebration of the 110th Anniversary of the Iyi-Enu Ogidi Mission Hospital in Idemili North Local Government Area of Anambra State.
He noted with concern that more than 4,765 Nigerian doctors were currently working in the UK, a figure representing 1.7 percent of the total number of medical workforce in the UK.
Anyaoku, who presented the anniversary speech at the event, said that the general decline of medical institutions across the country was not in the best interest of the development of Nigeria.
According to him, in the 1960s and 1970s, Nigeria was ranked fourth by the Commonwealth in the hierarchy of health sector efficiency countries.
“At that time, our country was a country that was attracting medical tourism on account of the quality of the services offered by the University College Teaching Hospital, Ibadan.
“Today, it is only a paltry 3.4 percent and 5.6 percent that is allocated to health sector annually, in spite the World Health Organisation (WHO) recommendation that 13 percent of the national budget be allocated to the sector,” he said.
Anyaoku said the result of the low budgetary allocation to the health sector over the years, in addition to what he tagged “the Nigerian factor”‘, has made the nation’s hospitals poorly equipped.
“Most of our hospitals have been reduced to mere consulting clinics, recently, Nigerians were shocked when it was revealed that even the Aso Rock Clinic that attends to the nation’s highest political leaders and their families lacked basic facilities like drugs and even syringes’,” he said.
Quoting a statement credited to Mr Bill Gates during his recent visit to Nigeria, Anyaoku said that Nigeria should address problems that made the country to be listed among nations with high maternal mortality rate.
“That Nigeria is mentioned as one of the nations with the worst maternal mortality rate in the league of countries that have experienced long periods of devastating civil wars is not good enough,” he said.
He called on government at all levels to tackle the problem in the health sector especially that of highly qualified Nigerian medical doctors abandoning the country in droves to work abroad.
Anyaoku commended the management of Iyi-Enu Hospital under the leadership of the Anglican Bishop on the Niger, Rt. Rev. Owen Nwokolo, for restoring the hospital to its past glory.
He called for the training of technicians handling and maintaining the diagnostic, dialysis machine and MRI equipment installed in the hospital.
Rt. Rev. Owen Nwokolo said the 110th Anniversary of the hospital was in remembrance of health spiritual service the Anglican Church was rendering to the people.
The event was graced by Deputy Senate President, Ike Ekweremadu, former Minister of Aviation, Chief Osita Chidoka, Anambra State Commissioner for Information, Mr C-Don Adinuba, and HRH Igwe Alex Uzu Onyido, the traditional ruler of Ogidi among others.