The World Health Organization (WHO) has expressed concern about the substandard working conditions of health workers in Nigeria, particularly those employed at the primary healthcare centres, compared to some other African countries with less political, social, and economic stability.
WHO criticized the poor political will in budgeting and release of funds for health financing in Nigeria, calling on affluent individuals and corporate organizations in the country to invest more in the health sector to curb the outflow of health workers to foreign countries and enhance the quality of healthcare delivery.
Dr Igboekwu Chukwumuanya, the WHO South-East Zonal Coordinator in Nigeria, voiced dissatisfaction with the state of health workers’ working conditions across the country during a Stakeholders’ Engagement Workshop themed Cross Programmatic Efficiency Analysis (CPEA) held in Anambra State Capital.
He noted that Nigeria’s proposed target of allocating 15% of the total government budget to health was still a far cry from achievement, and the health sector was not adequately funded compared to other sectors like defence and the army.
Dr Chukwumuanya emphasized that health is a fundamental human right and not a luxury or consumable. He stated that wise decisions taken by the government would have a beneficial impact on citizens, and WHO would continue to advocate for better working conditions for health workers nationwide.
The workshop’s objectives included advocating for the full release of funds to the health sector to political office holders, engaging partners in the development and review of annual operational plan activities, calling for one health system in Nigeria, and enhancing health systems by building capacity for data analysis and estimating health expenditure partners.
The WHO coordinator expressed gratitude to Governor Chukwuma Soludo for his support, stating, “We appreciate you most sincerely for providing the enabling environment for WHO and other United Nations agencies in the state. This makes a very bold statement of your willingness to work with us towards a better health benefit to the people as well as the economy of the state.”
Dr Afam Ben Obidike, the State Commissioner for Health, praised WHO’s technical and significant financial support in strengthening Anambra’s health system, stating, “I commend your efforts in our state in terms of prompt response to any outbreak and much other support we have enjoyed from you, we are grateful.”
The event was moderated by Dr Francis Ukwuije, a WHO representative in Nigeria. The health sector’s inadequately funded state compared to other sectors and the substandard working conditions of health workers in Nigeria have become a growing concern that calls for immediate attention.
The government and other stakeholders must take decisive steps to prioritize and invest in the health sector to enhance the well-being of the citizens and improve the country’s economic fortunes.
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