June 20, 2024

Pulse Bliss

most important health challenges

Revolutionising emergency healthcare in Nigeria: A call to action

Last week, amid the vibrant pulse of Lagos, a city perpetually abuzz with activity, the Healthcare Federation of Nigeria orchestrated a momentous gathering. It was not just another conference; it was a symphony of minds, a convergence of visionaries united by a singular purpose: to redefine the landscape of emergency healthcare.

As delegates flooded the halls, anticipation hung thick in the air, mingling with the palpable energy of collective determination. At the heart of this symposium lay a theme that reverberated with profound significance: ‘Optimising Emergency Care Delivery.’ It was not merely a slogan; it was a rallying cry, a clarion call to action that echoed far beyond the confines of the conference hall.

Q: “Most healthcare facilities in Nigeria lack the resources and expertise to handle such emergencies effectively.”

Composed of private sector stakeholders ranging from healthcare providers to industry leaders, the Healthcare Federation of Nigeria serves as a dynamic force for change in the nation’s healthcare landscape. With a collective vision grounded in innovation and compassion, the federation stands as a beacon of hope amid the challenges that plague Nigeria’s health sector. Through collaborative efforts and strategic initiatives, it seeks to transcend barriers and pave the way for a brighter, healthier future for all Nigerians.

From advocating for policy reforms to spearheading community outreach programmes, the federation’s multifaceted approach addresses the root causes of systemic deficiencies while championing equitable access to quality healthcare services. In a nation where access to healthcare remains a pressing issue, the federation’s commitment to ushering in a new era of progress offers a glimmer of hope for millions of Nigerians striving for better health outcomes.

When we speak of ’emergency’ in the context of healthcare, we are not merely referring to the dramatic scenes of road accidents or gunshot wounds. Emergencies encompass a vast spectrum of health crises, from medical to surgical, affecting individuals of all ages, genders, and backgrounds. They strike without warning, demanding swift and decisive action to preserve life.

Yet, amidst this urgent call for intervention, Nigeria finds itself grappling with a sobering reality: it is one of the most perilous places in the world to face a life-threatening emergency. Whether it’s a harrowing road accident on the Kaduna-Zaria highway or a sudden medical crisis at home in Enugu, the odds are stacked against survival.

However, addressing this crisis demands more than knee-jerk reactions or superficial solutions. While past attempts at reform have been well-intentioned, they often fell short of effectiveness. Take, for instance, the law mandating doctors to treat gunshot victims under threat of imprisonment. While noble in intent, it failed to address the systemic issues at play. Most healthcare facilities in Nigeria lack the resources and expertise to handle such emergencies effectively. What’s needed is a comprehensive, stratified approach to emergency care, one that prioritises patient safety and coordinated response efforts.

Fortunately, strides have been made in this direction. Initiatives like the Lagos State Emergency Medical Services (LASEMS) and LASAMBUS have set a precedent for effective pre-hospital care, serving as beacons of hope in an otherwise bleak landscape. However, challenges persist, from resource shortages to bureaucratic hurdles, hindering progress on a national scale.

Yet, amidst the obstacles, a glimmer of hope emerges. The National Health Act of 2014 paved the way for the establishment of the Basic Healthcare Provision Fund (BHCPF), allocating funds for emergency medical treatment. While the initial allocation may seem modest, it represents a significant step towards addressing the pressing needs of emergency care.

But the path forward is fraught with challenges. How do we design a system that’s tailored to the unique needs of Nigeria’s diverse population? How do we ensure maximum impact and efficiency without succumbing to bureaucratic red tape?

The answer lies in collaboration—between the public and private sectors, between policymakers and healthcare professionals, between communities and their leaders. By leveraging existing resources, scaling up successful initiatives, and fostering a culture of innovation, we can chart a course towards a brighter healthcare future.

As we reflect on the poignant words of the emergency medicine specialist grappling with unpaid bills, we are starkly reminded of the human cost of a failing system. Each delayed treatment, every denied procedure, represents a life hanging in the balance. But despair cannot be our response. The time for action is now. Let us seize this opportunity to transform Nigeria’s emergency healthcare system.

By implementing sustainable funding mechanisms, ensuring efficient resource allocation, and prioritising critical equipment and supplies, we can build a system that empowers medical professionals to save lives. Every life saved, every family spared the tragedy of preventable loss, becomes a testament to the power of collective action.

Let us move forward together, with unwavering determination, to ensure that quality emergency care becomes a reality, not a privilege, for all Nigerians.