Coalition of Non-Governmental Organisations (NGOs) has urged the Federal and State Governments to prioritise preventive measures against diseases and infections rather than curative.
The NGOs made the call at a medical outreach conducted by ADHES, at Pyakasa community, a suburb in FCT, Abuja.
The NGOs include the Advocacy for Development, Health and Environmental Sustainability Advocacy (ADHES), Jhpiego as well as Centre for Health, Education, Economic, Rehabilitation and Social Security (CHEERS).
Others are the Women in Water and Sanitation (WASH) and Advocate for Human Right and Sustainable Development (AHSUD).
Mrs Elizabeth Fernandez, Jhpiego Volunteer, decried the poor health conditions in most rural communities in the country due to lack of health facilities.
Fernandez identified such gap as a contributing factor to the poor health indices in the country, especially when it comes to maternal and child mortality rate and outbreak of diseases.
“The poor hygiene nature and practices by most communities in the country is a key factor to the nation’s disease burden.
“Also, the poor attention of government to rural communities with regard to developmental and health issues in this segment of the society is dismal as they have the highest burden of diseases.’’
The volunteer urged government at all levels to prioritise health and well-being of rural communities by ensuring that every rural community member has access to basic healthcare and sanitation.
Such efforts, according to her, will curb the prevalence of diseases and ensure reduction of maternal and child deaths and at the long run, ensure realisation of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
“There is a big gap between those that are insured and those that are not; the people that are not insured are those that really need healthcare most because they do not get immediate help when it is needed.
“They do not get preventive healthcare, so if you do not have prevention then you need to have to treat the worst health condition which is a wrong approach and not cost effective.
“The best ways to ensure a healthy nation or healthy citizens is to prioritise preventive measures which are key to good health; governmentG and other stakeholders must rise to this responsibility.
“Sensitisation against open defecation and unhealthy practices must be intensified and ensure the populace actually practice proper hygiene,’’ she said.
Mr Jeremiah Agaji, the Programme Manager, ADHES, said the medical outreach is part of the organisation’s sensitisation project to pilot its Pyakasa Healthcare Project focusing on Community Base Social Healthcare Insurance.
Agaji said the project is geared toward addressing the basic healthcare need of the populace and bring development to rural areas.
According to him, the community’s population is over 10,000 but so far, free medical services have been offered to only about 160 people.
He said the services offered include malaria treatment, fasting blood sugar test, blood pressure, deworming of children, physiotherapy for the elderly and providing referral support for emergency cases requiring urgent attention.
The programme manager called on the presidency to expedite release of the Basic Healthcare Provision Funds as it will address challenges facing health institutions nationwide.
“There is need to set up decentralised monitoring mechanism driven by the Federal Government in partnership with civil society organisations, the media, international partners and other lead medical associations.
“The need to track government spending is key to ensuring efficient utilisation of public funds and cutting down on corruption that has endangered our healthcare system,’’ Agaji said.
Mrs Aisha Bakpet, the National Coordinator of Women in WASH, also decried the burden of open defecation in the community.
She said that no matter the rate of medical intervention, investment on health without ridding the community of open defecation would be fruitless.
“We will continue to acknowledge the huge step taken by the Federal Government to declare state of emergency on the water and sanitation sector.
“There is need to reflect this similar gesture at the state and local government levels.
“The populace should desist from open defecation and imbibe proper hygiene practices like regular washing of hands after defecation and construction of toilet facilities within residential areas, among others.
“These practices will curb or eradicate the spread of water-borne diseases like cholera, diarrhoea and typhoid,’’ Bakpet said.