Public Participation Tops Recommendations As Over 400 Nigerians drive Campaign For Improved Hospitals

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. Media must be capacitated to function better in hospital’s improvements- Ex-Health Broadcaster, Moji Makunjuola

. Youths should play very vital roles in driving Campaign- Samson Itodo, Executive Director, YIAGA Africa.

By Charles Otu

Over 400 Nigerians have signed-up in a campaign to demand more efficient and citizen-based participation and partnership towards improving health-care delivery services in public health facilities across the 36 States of the Federation and the FCT.
The campaigners, according to a Press Statement are targeting to mobilize at least One Million Nigerians to be part of the enforcing teams.

This is even as various keynote Speakers during the official launch of the #MakeOurHospitalWork# campaign have identified corruption, lack of accountability in the health sector and negligence in participation by members of local host communities where public health facilities are situated as mainly the key factors militating against functional and efficient hospitals in Nigeria.

Speaking during the official launch of the #MakeOurHospitalWork# campaign in Abuja, the convener and a passionate Public Health Advocate, Dr. Laz Ude Eze said the vision of the campaign was to initiate and maintain sustainable community-based participation in the drive to ensure a more accountable and improved health-care in the country.

According to him, “Now is the most appropriate time for fellow Nigerian citizens of our dear nation to take their destinies into their hands and stop further complaints and less-concerned attitudes towards the deplorable state of our health sector. It is time for actions. We all must get involved.”

He said such lackadaisical disposition towards the affairs and issues affecting the very critical health sector were responsible for the growing corruption, unaccountability and dysfunctionality in the Nigerian health system management.

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Many participants in the launch who believes it to be one of the biggest events that could transform Nigeria’s ailing health sector towed similar paths in their submissions while pledging to show greater commitment in the drive to partner to ensure improved services in the health facilities they signed-up for in their immediate environments.

Lead Speaker of the Conference and former Vice Chairman, House of Representatives Committee on Health Services, Hon. Muhammad Usman informed that there are over 40, 000 Health facilities spread across the nation with different levels of functionality bedevilled by major gaps and challenges of facility.

While calling for support or adoption of health facilities, Hon. Usman held the opinion that all the campaign required was determination, community mobilization and financial support.

Highlighting the crucial role of the media in the campaign, the Executive Director, International Society of Media in Public Health, Mrs. Moji Makanjuola while speaking on the topic: ‘Leveraging the media to make our hospitals work’, called for capacitation of the media to enable it function better in the hospital’s improvement space in order to report from a point of knowledge and strength.

Makanjuola, a retired staff of Nigeria’s foremost public broadcasting Television Station, NTA aptly recollected that the Nigerian media have played very crucial roles that have brought about enhanced budgetary process and rehabilitation of some public hospitals in the country.

“The media today is a dynamic pot of diverse forms; growing rapidly and a formidable tool of modern communication. People spend huge amounts of (about4-8 hours of their time on media; Radio, Television, Social media and so on.”

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In her words, “the media play important roles in amplifying or attenuating public’s perception and can serve as key link in the mass communication process if properly engaged: from inception with same objectives, as an empowered partner and component, used as providers of high level coverage to catch public attention and also as a catalyst and accelerant of health-care system change.”

It is further her view that the media plays the role of a tracker of development and converse, investigators of crime and fraud within the system and as perceived stakeholders in the sector, act as agents of positive behavioural change.

“The media must therefore be part of carrying the good news of working hospitals. It has roles of educating the public on public health issues and a responsibility to report accurately Health and Science information”, she highlighted, noting however that it must use mainstream media to forestall and debunk false and fake news and infodemics.

Another Speaker and Founding partner, Health Systems Consult Limited, Dr. Nkata Chukwu who spoke on Ward Health System and the Minimum Standard of Primary Health Care in Nigeria highlighted unavailability of financial resources required to ensure sustainability, lack of support for the implementation of Minimum Service Package and lack of coordination and harmonization of donor support as some of the factors affecting local health care minimum service delivery in Nigeria.

The Executive Director, YIAGA Africa, Mr. Samson Itodo in his presentation which

focused on youth participation called for collective youth mobilization and charged young Nigerians to take the drivers-seat in the campaign to #MakeOurHospitalWork# while shunning passiveness and attitudes that could hinder accountability in the Nigerian health system management.

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People With Disabilities were not left out as the Executive Director, Deaf Women Aloud Initiative, Ms Helen Beyioku-Alase who spoke on Barriers to access to health-care by PWDs listed physically inaccessible medical clinics and hospitals, uneven access to hospital buildings and health centres, inaccurate medical equipment, poor signage and narrow doorways as factors hampering easy access to health facilities for the affected group.

Participants in the launching which was done via a Zoom conferencing all signed up the pledge to play effective roles in the campaign particularly in their various local hospitals while lauding the convener for the initiative.

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