The Minister of State for Health, Dr Osagie Ehanire, has called on Nigerians to have confidence in the nation’s healthcare sector.
Ehanire made the appeal on Saturday in Abuja while speaking at the Annual General Conference of the Ophthalmological Society of Nigeria (OSN).
The theme of this year’s conference is “Advancing eye care beyond 2020’’, with sub-theme: “Recent advances in eye care”.
He identified confidence as the most important ingredient in any healthcare system.
“No matter how much investment we make in sophisticated medical technology, no matter how qualified the doctors and nurses are, without confidence, patients especially those of high net worth, will elude the system,” he said.
The minister identified some factors that damage confidence in any healthcare system as poor housekeeping and environmental sanitation in hospitals.
Ehanire listed other negative factors to include recurring health workers strike, inter-professional rivalry which frightens users, workplace absenteeism, laissez-faire, sluggish attitude to work, unprofessional attitude of soliciting, extortion and other forms of corruption.
According to him, these unethical attitudes, lack of respect for patients’ dignity or personal privacy or the leakage of medical records also constitute damage to the system.
“With these factors, patients will prefer the less equipped private hospitals with far less qualified doctors in exchange for more dignity or if able, opt to travel abroad for treatment.
“These damage not only the reputation of the hospital, but also of the doctors therein. There is nothing more precious to truly professional doctors or nurses than the respect and reputation he gets.
“It is therefore, in the interest of senior doctors not to leave damaging factors only in the hands of hospital management but to instruct younger doctors correctly.
“They should take active interest in countering factors giving healthcare in Nigeria a bad name, rather than take refuge in extramural private practice,’’ Ehanire advised.
The minister said that “Patients Bill of Rights’’ (PBoR) recently launched by Vice President Yemi Osinbajo was designed to encourage patients to patronise public hospitals as it allayed their fear for safety, lack of respect or outright insults.
According to him, with simple change of attitude of personnel and attention to decent environment, medical tourism will naturally disappear.
Ehanire however urged healthcare providers to always take patients as customers paying for services, adding that they have rights, choices, opinion and dignity that providers must respect.
“The PBoR will help us as care providers to improve on our delivery. Respect for human dignity is a universal principle.
“People never forget how they are treated, especially when they are at their most vulnerable and there are not many scenarios of vulnerability that are as compelling as the one that put a person in search of health.
“One can tell a great deal about how a country values its citizens from attitudes prevalent in the healthcare systems and institutions,” Ehanire said.
The bill encapsulate the rights of patients and responsibilities, obligations of healthcare providers to protect patients, ensure highest level of ethical conduct by healthcare professionals as well as enhance the quality and standards of care in the healthcare sector, among others. (NAN)