Private medical institutions operating in Nigeria have been urged to review their high services charges so that most Nigerians can afford them.
The appeal was made by the wife of the President, Aisha Buhari during a courtesy visit paid her by officials of the Association of General and Private Medical Practitioners of Nigeria at the State House on Wednesday, a press statement from the state house said.
The statement, signed by Suleiman Haruna, Director of Information to Wife of the President was made available to newsmen on Thursday.
Mrs Buhari observed that many Nigerians who do not have access to public health services resort to private hospitals which are very expensive and this has implications on not just the patients but the nation’s health indices.
“Private health care is expensive, your association needs to revisit the issue of charges, make treatments affordable so that more people can access your services and health outcomes can improve,” she said.
Mrs Buhari also lamented the brain drain in the health sector, saying ironically, people travel abroad mostly to be treated by Nigerian practitioners.
She solicited for better working conditions for the practitioners so that they are encouraged to remain in Nigeria.
She also urged the association to check cases of medical malpractices by private hospitals, “which are becoming more rampant.”
She recommended a Public-Private Partnership, whereby private sector firms can invest in the health sector and reduce the burden on the government.
“That is why I am convening a stakeholders event soon, to draw their attention to the possibilities and opportunities in the sector,” she said.
President of the Association, Frank Odofen, commended Mrs Buhari and her commitment to the health of women and children through the Future Assured Programme, which dovetailed into her recent appointment as UNAIDS ambassador.
Also, President of World Organisation of Family Doctors, Amanda Howe, who was on a two-day visit to Nigeria, observed that the pronouncements and programmes of Mrs Buhari are worthy of emulation as the challenges in the health sector require strong commitment.
She also noted that medical personnel embedded in communities in Nigeria are doing “wonderful jobs by providing support and preventing diseases through education of families, patients and health workers.”