In response to the Ekweremadu organ harvesting saga, I expect the four leading presidential candidates to come out with a healthplan like this that will eliminate the scourge from our society

Ayo Akinfe

[1] We live in a country whereby Nigerian general hospitals lack beddings, drugs and are characterised by filthy wards. To make matters worse, they are manned by unmotivated staff and of course our hospitals suffer from regular power cuts

[2] In the 1970s, under the Murtala/Obasanjo regime, there was a policy to municipalise healthcare by having one general hospital in each local government area. Maybe if that policy had been continued and backed up with funding, we might not have our current healthcare crisis

[3] Nigeria currently has 774 local government areas. If each one had a well funded general hospital, we would effectively by home and dry. I believe this is something we can fund through the existing budget if we want to.

[4] At the moment, Nigeria has 1.67 hospital beds per 1,000 patients compared with say six on Indonesia, 3.48 in Zambia, 3.35 in the Democratic Republic of Congo and the sub-Saharan average of 2.93. I want to see the 2023 presidential candidates pledge to halving that figure over an eight year period

[5] As things stand, we appear not really interested in healthcare, as we are somewhat content to leave this to the private sector. Unfortunately, private clinics are beyond the reach of most ordinary Nigerians. When you earn N30,000 a month, paying for healthcare simply cannot feature on your household budgetary plans. By the time you pay for food, housing, transport, your tithes and clothing, you will be penniless, talk less not of school fees

[6] Nigeria’s total annual budget is about $30bn, of which health accounts for less than 3%. In 2019 for instance, of the total N8.83trn budget, only N315bn or 2.78% went on healthcare. This is totally unacceptable as it actually breaches a commitment Nigeria made to the rest of the world, pledging 15% of her budget to healthcare

[7] In 2001, Nigeria hosted the African Union heads of state where they all signed the Abuja Declaration, under which the leaders pledged to commit at least 15% of their annual budgets to improving the health sector. Since the declaration, Nigeria has never voted more than 6% of its annual budget to the health sector. Sadly, the highest percentage of the budget dedicated to health since the declaration was in 2012 when 5.95% was allotted to the sector

[8] South Africa spends 7.44% of its budget on health. In Brazil it is 8.9% and in Mexico it is 5.8%. These are the standards in other developing nations we need to match

[9] Do you know that 75% of all health spending in Nigeria is private? Apparently, Nigeria spends comparatively less on health than other African countries because of low government spending in general according to Dr John Ataguba, a health economics researcher at the University of Cape Town. I agree with him, when your total annual budget for 200m people is a paltry $30bn, you are doomed. Just to put everything into context, the British NHS spends about $155bn on health in England alone annually.

[10] Bear in mind that health is not considered a basic need like food, clothing and shelter. It thus gets relegated to the background. I have not even delved into specialist secondary healthcare and the need for dedicated cardiac, renal, eye, dermatology, etc specialist hospitals as we are still struggling with primary healthcare. If we want to end the organ harvesting saga, we simply need to invest in healthcare!