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FG to curtail medical tourism through establishment of specialised centers for heart surgeries

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FG to curtail medical tourism through establishment of specialised centers for heart surgeries

The minister of Health Prof. Isaac Folorunso Adewole has disclosed that the Federal Governor will create specialised centers for the routine activity in Cardiovascular and Thoracic surgeries to stem the tide in medical tourism.
The minister spoke at the 2nd Annual General Meeting & Scientific Conference with the theme: Sustainable Cardiovascular Surgery in Nigeria; leaning from the experience of regional centres.

Professor Adewale who spoke through the director Health Services Federal Ministry of Health Dr. Joseph Amedu the minister observed that the brain drain in the sector is affecting the country negatively.
He said the Government would encourage the Association of cardiovascular and Thoracic surgeon of Nigeria(ACTSON) and other professionals that have to do with cardiac diseases, which have to do with high blood pressure, cardiac arrest so that such ailments can be taken care of locally.
“Nigerians are in the best position to take care of fellow Nigerians and we know that we have the means and the capabilities and what it takes to properly take care of cardiac diseases in Nigeria.”
He said what the program by the ACTSON is out to achieve is to ensure that cardiac surgeries and diceases are properly taken care of in Nigeria.
“Their deliberation would center on how they can carry out these activities so that all patients having cardiac problems in Nigeria are well taken care of and the Federal ministry of health is fully in support.”
Cases of sudden deaths are usually caused by heart failures and the essence of this program is to ensure that such issues don’t arise and where they occur they are properly taken care of and the Federal ministry of health under the Federal Government has put in place strategies to ensure that all cases of cardiac diseases are properly taken care of.
The President of Cardiovascular and Thoracic Surgeon of Nigeria (ACTSON) Dr. Bode Falashe said it is their second conference, as the society was innaugurated February last year.
“We have had one year in the house to developethe association. Like in most association we need to exchange ideas to map out a vision for the association in conferences and meetings, this is our annual general meeting.

“Cardiovascular and thoracic surgery is availlable in Nigeria. We have the surgery taking place in the public and the private sector. The patients can benefit from the skills availlable for members of the Association.”
Hiwever he observed that there are challenges towards achieving their goals which are muti factorial, like having adequate number of surgeons, having the training, having the infrastructure, getting the consumables and getting the funding.
He said even when all the human resources, human capital and consumables are availlabke that patients can afford the surgery it is all arms working together.
“You can’t solve all the problems. Like we can’t solve all the funding issues, that is a Government thing, at the moment most patients pay out of the pockets they spend into the insurance for our surgeries. “Part of what we are working on is by coming together bringing the cost of surgeries down by collaborating, by having different suppliers attend our conferences, they would not be supplying one person but many in bulk so that the cost can be brought down.”
He sais by doing the professionals in the field would be sharing resources that can make the surgeries affordable and cheaper. “When we have sponsors and more insurance that can bring the cost down more patients can afford the surgery.
“In summary what we are doing here is we are working together to make sure the surgeries are available from our resources, training, residence, scheming ourselves, refreshing ourselves, helping our institutions to domicile surgery in the country and working with Government, NGOs and the insurance to bring the cost of surgery down.”
On whether people that go for medical tourism can be stopped he said going abroad for treatment would never be a thing of the past because it is always about the patient’s interest.
“What we are making available is choice. This means even the best of countries in the US, in the UK it is always the patients’ choice because people leave those countries for elsewhere to seek the best of services because they may want a better enviroment, five star treatment which they can afford. “What we are doing is to.make the surgery available on regular bases and make it safe for good results. If you are a patient the question you ask is, is it availlable yes or no? In the past it was never available.
“So they are having a choice, those who have no choice will stay at home take local treatment and die, those who can afford will go out of the country.
“If it is available they will ask if it is safe, who is doing it, which hospital and whether they will survive. Nobody wants to be experimented upon so what we want to do is to ensure that we have centers that can do this surgeries safely.”

I need to see a doctor and they have it without which they will stay at home. In the last five years have things really changed? There have been so much development. Like now there are so many places in the country people can confidently say if they have the money they can have the surgery in the past but more needs to be down because for the average persoons it is still expensive.

He said, “In India that does local surgery it costs N8m to 10m, could you afford N10m? No. Right now in the country the cost of the best of the insurance is between N2.5m and N4m to N5m between the public and the private sectors.
“So it is about half to a one third of the cost in the country. The benefit is that you have the same operation in your country so that you don’t have to go out, and the social factors, your family and friends are around you to visit you so it is a win win.
“Would Medical tourism be a thing of the past? It would be reduced but you cannot stop those that want to go out.”

The Secretary general of the Association Dr Kelechi Okonta said they want to conglomerate the practice of cardiovascular and thoracic surgery at a particular point such that they would not have the splinter group as it were.
“At the moment in the country we have enough to start off daily and active cardiac cases in this country. This meeting will chart a part towards creating where people will conglomerate at two or three points.”

The vice president of the Association Dr yahaya Adamu said a forum such as theirs which brings them together is for them to be able to channel an organise strength so that they can bring the practice of cardiac surgery into fruition in Nigeria.
“In this country today we rearly have any meaningful cardiac surgery activity going on as almost all patients travel out of the country to the US, UK, India and so on. “When ever you find our people on the flight they are going for one medical treatment or the other. The bulk of these are for heart surgery so we believe it is high time we organize ourselves to make sure that this is practiced routinely at home.
“For most centers where this thing is being done there is this kind of organised activity with partners and colleagues coming in from other countries to help for them to hold and we think it should be done routinely.
He said the forum is actually also meant to train the younger surgeon on how to practically do this job of mending the heart.

The Chief Medical Director of the National Hospital Abuja Dr .Jaf Momoh said for those of them who train cardiovascular doctors they have observed that many of them go for greener pastures looking for better training centers while others branches off to take to the training in general surgery.
He said such trend is not good enough for a country like Nigeria of over 180m.
He said there are fewer cardiothoracic surgeons in Nigeria whose number can not take care of cardiothoracic surgeries in Nigeria.
“This is a good move and I will appreciate if it is sustained and we all cooperate. Development of Cardiothoracic centers should not just be a solo effort, everybody needs to come on board to make sure the centers are not only created but developed. “Cardiothoracic centers are capital intensive we can no longer decieve ourselves that we can continuue to do things the way we have been doing it if not we would be left behind. We are already left behind by the world”
The 2nd annual general meeting &scientific conference theme:sustainable cardiovascular surgery in Nigeria:leaning from the experience of regional centres”

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USAID, other stakeholders resolve to strengthen healthcare system in FCT

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USAID, other stakeholders resolve to strengthen healthcare system in FCT

By Ummul Idris

The USAID Integrated Health Programme (IHP), FCT Primary Health Care Board (PHCB) and traditional rulers have resolved to work together to strengthen healthcare system across the territory.

The stakeholders made the resolution at Orientation and  Inaugural Meeting of Area Council Health Authority (ACHA) Management and Advisory Structures for Abaji, in Abuja on Thursday.

The FCT Director of USAID IHP, Dr Juliana Nathaniel said Health indices within the FCT was poor hence major stakeholders must work together to adress it headon.

Nathaniel explained that morbidity and mortality had remained high amongst women, children, and the general population because of the weak health system which was not currently performing optimally.

She stated that the cost of health services had persistently denied the poor and vulnerable access to quality health care services and had indeed remained an issue of great concern to all and sundry.

“I am truly excited to be part of this historic event because what we are witnessing today is not just long overdue, but a very critical step towards the right direction.

“I want to congratulate the FCT leadership for this giant stride. Setting up these structures as prescribed under the PHC Act, is necessary for proper management, coordination, and effective delivery of PHC programmes.

“When in place, the structures will not only help to ensure that Primary Health Care (PHC) plans are properly articulated, but that it represents the interest and felt-needs  of the communities, thus helping to actualize the concept of bottom-top approach in PHC programming in the FCT.

“We are all aware that setting up the management and administrative structures for each AC is crucial because it is in line with the principles of the Primary Health Care Under One Roof (PHCUOR) initiative and was mandated by the PHC Enabling Act of 2019.

“Putting  these structures in place and making them functional is not just a basic requirement, but a prerequisite for accessing the Basic Health Care Provision Fund (BHCPF)” she stated.

She enjoined the stakeholders involved to focus on implementation of well-articulated  strategies and interventions  to  bring about a complete turn-around  in PHC management  and the service delivery system, in order to  impact positively  on the health indices within the FCT.

Similarly, the Director, Finance and Administration of FCT PHCB, Alhaji Ishaq Sadeeq reiterated the government’s commitment to strengthen healthcare system adding that the meeting was critical in order to fortify the governance structure of PHC in FCT.

According to him, the structure is relevant in line with the Primary Healthcare Revitalisation Programme of President Muhammadu Buhari.

He explained that setting up the Abaji Area Council Health Authority was a prerequisite for FCT to access Basic Health Care Provision Fund (BHCPF).

He expressed appreciation for the technical assistance the board received from USAID funded IHP on task order seven in the FCT.

He added that the intervention had  supported FCT to implement its policies to improve management and delivery of Health Care at all levels in the territory.

The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that Ona of Abaji, Alhaji Adamu Yunusa and the Chairman of Abaji Area Council, Alhaji Abdulrahman Ajiya pledged their support for successful implementation of the health authority in Abaji. (NAN)

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Half a million families got succour from N1b across Nigeria says VSF COVID-19 taskforce

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Half a million families got succour from N1b across Nigeria says VSF COVID-19 taskforce

Victim Support Fund (VSF) COVID-19 Task Force has indicated that its preliminary N1b earmarked for cushioning the effect of Coronavirus pandemics was used to reach out to about 500 000 families across the country in real terms.
Speaking while delivering some of the support items that included laptops computers, and other technical equipments to the Federal Ministry of Health recently, the Chairperson of VSF COVID-19 Task Force, Toyon Akerele-Ogunsiji said they calculated that an average Nigerian will have a father, mother and four children, hence they provided food that will last them for at least a few weeks to a month.

She said from that point they observe to see what the government would do next from there.
According to her, the spread of Coronavirus could have peaked between March and April but for their intervention in providing more than enough food to the tune of of N1b.”For Abuja we spent about 20% out of the preliminary N1b, for Lagos 20% then for Yobe, Adamawa and Ogun State they got 10% each, maize, rice all in 10kg, sugar, salt in 2kg, 4litres gallon for cooking oil.
“One of the things priortized in our donation is the dignity of our beneficiary.
We didnt just want to donate food because we considered them as indegent of the vulnerable population.
“It was important that the food we donated will keep and sustain their families for a while.
“People were able to feed, we were giving out drugs because we priortized the immunity of Nigerians at that time. We have multivitamins, pain medicines and other supplement.
“We bought about 300. 000 pieces of tablet soaps because hand washings the single preventive mechanism against Coronavirus.”

She reiterated the fact that healthcare is not only about providing medication and drugs adding that the taskforce extended its support in combating the COVID-19 pandemic beyond drugs and medicals to human capacity development as well as provision of technical support for the Federal Ministry of Health. She said the quality of human capacity will determine to a very large extent the successes the ministry will achieve in fighting the COVID-19 pandemic.
“Today we are providing technical equipments to the Federal ministry of health, we are supporting them with the ministerial expert advisory committee and we are also providing support for the development and the management of the national pandemic action plan.
“We are going to be supporting the ministry by renovating the elevators within the ministry because now we have more staff coming in and out spending more time within the ministry than they use to and we are providing support for the secretariat.
“We are paying for Zoom subscription, we are covering the cost of Wi-Fi of the COVID-19 of the FMOH we believe that healthcare is not just about providing medication and drugs, the human capital element is also very crucial.
She said the VSF earmarked N1B naira in the first phase of its intervention, adding the the second phase got N832, 720, 000,480 adding the the third phase will get a little less than N1b.
She said so far the task force has given support worth more than N150m to the federal ministry of health which is apart from the support it gave to the Nigerian Center for Disease Control (NCDC).
On the extent to which the support of the taskforce has impacted positively in bringing down the pandemic she said,
“I am very bold to say that we are probably the first private sector led humanitarian initiative in this country that responded to the COVID-19 pandemic at the peak of it.
“COVID-19 task force was set up by General Danjuma and was inaugurated on the 30th of March and we tried to take action and by 14th of April we were already in Abuja here at the Malaysian Garden in Karu to give out food items, medicals, PPE, drugs, family care drugs to IDPs in Abuja from Abuja on the same day we were in Borno to meet with Governor Babagana Umaru.
“From Borno we were in Yobe to Kano and from there we moved on to Lagos and Ibadan and Ogun State.”
She said they chose to intervene in Lagos, Ogun and Abuja because they were the frontline COVID-19 locations
She said, “The people were so Hungary they could not stay at home, they had to go out. As schools resumes she said, “We are going to set wash facilities going forward, we are going to providing wash facilities for schools, support the gradual reopening of schools from Nursery to primary and secondary because we want children to be able to wash their hands.
“We will setup more boreholes, donate tablet soap for hand washing, wristband hand sanitizers that children can press constantly and sanitizer their hands support teachers, we know that education is important and we cannot stop the education of children.
“What we must do as a responsible organisation is to make sure we set in motion a system where the health and the hygiene of children are not compromised as they go to school.”

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Respite as FMC Lokoja resumes wednesday 23rd, september, three months after deadly attack

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Respite as FMC Lokoja resumes wednesday 23rd, september, three months after deadly attack

The Federal Medical Centre (FMC) Lokoja chapter of the Joint Action Congress (JAC) on Thursday suspended their three-month old industrial action embarked upon following deadly attack by unknown hoodlums.
It would be recalled that while the FMC was under lock and key, health workers and patients who needed specialised care were at the recieving end.
Suspected hoodlums had stormed FMC, Lokoja, in the early hours of Wednesday-July 1, destroying the administrative block, carting away computers and files allegedly relating to COVID-19. 

I a statement after emerging from a meeting with the management of the hospital, JAC said it suspended the strike after the show of commitment by the hospital management to guarantee and ensure the safety of lives and property of the workers, among other demands.
According to the statement, “This decision is premised on the compliance with our request to guarantee safety of lives and properties among other things as a result of attack by unknown hoodlums on the Federal Medical Centre Lokoja and her staff dated 1st of July 2020.”

It however disclosed that the tertiary health institution will resume full services from Wednesday 23rd September 2020. “We have decided to resume full services on the 23rd of September 2020.” The statement, jointly signed by the various unions and professional associations, thanked the Minister of Health, Kogi State Government, State House of Assembly, FMC Lokoja Board and security agencies for their intervention, and people of the state for their understanding. Recall that medical doctors and other health professionals of the facility had on July 1, 2020, embarked on industrial action after the hospital was invaded by hoodlums. The Kogi State House of Assembly has recently called for the urgent reopening of the medical facility in the interest of the masses.

The House, in a motion of urgent public importance, argued that the continued closure of the health institution was not in the best interest of the people of the state considering the deteriorating health situation of the people of the state, hence called for its immediate reopening. 

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