Nigerians need independence from preventable diseases and deaths – Opinion by Dr. Laz Ude Eze

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It’s Nigeria’s 59th independence day anniversary. I should have been home with my wife (Lolo) and the boys but I’m in Benin en route Lagos as PINK OAK and partners keep pushing to help cancer patients access timely treatment. But that’s not my main message. 

Last weekend, my two sons, Dike and Omemma, were on a hospital admission on account of febrile illness. 4 days earlier, they were seen by a paediatrician and prescriptions made. Improvement was not sustained until their temperature was rising above 39 degrees.

They were both discharged 36 hours later. But while in the hospital, they watched cartoons, played and cried too. They received healthcare in a conducive environment because my health insurance covered their treatment. The last time Omemma was on admission for 4 nights in November 2018 when I had no insurance cover, I struggled to pay his N200, 000 bill out of pocket. Without health insurance, I will probably have taken them to a general hospital or even treat them myself (against our medical ethics). This is just Fever-related illness. I never begin talk of cancer, kidney disease, heart disease, etc.

As we commemorate independence day, all Nigerians especially children and pregnant women deserve independence from preventable illnesses and deaths. All of us should demand that the Federal and State Government make Health insurance mandatory for every citizen. Public Health professionals call it UNIVERSAL HEALTH COVERAGE. This will encourage more investment in health and save more lives.

Every Nigerian deserve the best possible quality of health care provided in Nigeria. The Basic Health Care Provision Fund should be implemented in line with the spirit of the National Health Act 2014 that established it. A bill that will help to make this possible is on President Buhari’s table awaiting assent. Please Mr. President, sign the National Health Insurance Commission Bill and grant Nigerians Independence from Preventable Illness and Deaths. All Nigerians should join this advocacy henceforth to ensure a sustainable access to quality health care. God bless Nigeria.

Dr. Laz, a Public Health Financing and Management expert is the Executive Director of the Pink Oak Cancer Trust and writes from Abuja. He tweets @donlaz4u

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