By Nnamdi Odumody
In September 2015, the United Nations General Assembly agreed on the 2030 agenda for sustainable development with a new generation of 17 Sustainable Development Goals, and 169 targets, to succeed the Millennium Development Goals, and guide global development over the next 15 years to 2030.
Low Income countries will need an additional $671 billion until 2030 to attain the health related SDG’s. Seventy nine percent of these costs are required to strengthen the healthcare system.
The Ebola Virus Disease which ravaged Liberia, Sierra Leone and Guinea caused a GDP loss in 2015 of $240 million for Liberia, $535million for Guinea and $1.4billion for Sierra Leone which means that the West African sub-region suffered economic losses of almost $4 billion due to this scourge.
Approximately 47 percent of the total productivity cost of illness could be avoided in 2030 if the SDG targets related to those health conditions are fully achieved.
In 2014, a WHO report on healthcare delivery, which surveyed 200 countries placed Nigeria at 197th position ahead of Democratic Republic of Congo, Central African Republic and Myanmar. Nigeria currently loses 400 billion naira annually to Medical Tourism.
The Universal Health Coverage compliance ranked Nigeria recently in 187th out of 191 countries. Budgetary allocation to the healthcare sector in 2018 was 340.45 billion naira (less than $1billion) representing only 3.9 percent of the budget which is 1,800 naira ($5) per capita for each of the 190 million citizens. Maternal mortality rate in Nigeria is 814 per 100,000 live births and for every 1000 births in Nigeria, 108 infants and children die before the age of five.
Over 72 million Nigerians according to WHO 2017 statistics are at risk of malaria, with 380.8 at risk out of every 1000 citizens, and the cancer death ratio is 4 to 5, which is one of the worst in the world. According to WHO, over 100,000 people are diagnosed with cancer annually in Nigeria, and about 80,000 die from the disease which amounts to 240 citizens daily. Cervical cancer which is 100 percent preventable kills one Nigerian woman every hour while breast cancer kills 40 Nigerian women daily.
The African Business Coalition For Health which comprises of some of the continent’s most successful corporate titans who are passionate about fixing some of the frictions in healthcare services delivery on the continent is taking note. Entities like Global Business Coalition For Health, Aliko Dangote Foundation, and Private Sector Health Alliance of Nigeria have initiatives with the private sector to tackle deficits in healthcare.
Nigeria needs to spend $1billion annually on Research and Development to create Innovative Solutions to some of the common healthcare challenges which alongside the rest of Africa are faced with, by establishing six Centres of Medical Excellence for Cancer, Hepatitis, Diabetes, Malaria, Lassa Fever and Tuberculosis across the geopolitical zones which will make it Africa’s destination for medical tourism. To execute this mission, the nation has to increase the budgetary allocation to healthcare in line with WHO minimum requirements of at least 17 percent to enhance the productivity and wellbeing of the citizens.
They have always said this: health is wealth. Nigeria must live that through policy and priorities.