The Chief Medical Director of the University College Hospital, Ibadan, Prof. Jesse Otegbayo, says privatisation of government-owned teaching hospitals will take quality and affordable healthcare out of the reach of many Nigerians.
Otegbayo made the assertion while speaking to the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) on Wednesday in Ibadan.
According to him, affordable healthcare is important to a productive nation and privatising tertiary health institutions is not a solution to the many challenges bedeviling the health sector.
He said, “Teaching hospitals render social service that should not be toyed with by any individual, just like the popular saying that “a healthy nation is a wealthy nation.”
“I will not support the idea of privatisation because when you do that you are not looking at the social aspect and the welfare of the people of the nation but the economic aspect of it.
“Quite a high percentage of Nigerians are poor and cannot access or afford effective and quality healthcare, so when you privatise teaching hospitals, quality healthcare gets out of the reach of the average Nigerian.
“That means more Nigerians will forego or delay necessary medical care or seek the services of quacks.”
Otegbayo said that the problem with the teaching hospitals as it relates to ineffective healthcare delivery was the near comatose state of state-owned general hospitals and primary health centres.
According to him, this has shifted a huge burden on the teaching hospitals and stretched their resources thin.
“What the Federal Government is pumping into tertiary health sector is huge. The problem with tertiary hospitals now is that we not only do our mandate for tertiary healthcare which is training , research and services, but we now render primary and secondary healthcare services.
“Look at all the 36 states of the federation, most of the general hospitals are dysfunctional; there are not enough doctors, equipment and facilities on ground.
“As a result almost everybody with conditions that can be resolved at the primary or secondary level, comes to the teaching hospitals because that is where they think they can get a similitude of good and effective care.
“What this means in essence is that we are stretching our resources on primary, secondary and tertiary health services when we ought to concentrate on tertiary only.
“If the state governments across the federation can wake up to their responsibility and equip their hospitals in terms of manpower, equipment and facilities, there will be less burden on tertiary healthcare centre and we can focus more on our primary duties, ” he said.
The CMD called for universal coverage to make healthcare accessible to many Nigerians.
“I believe what government should do is to ensure universal health coverage, the National Health Insurance Scheme is a very good avenue to improve the healthcare of every Nigerian.
“If universal health coverage is spread to both our public and private citizens, then more Nigerians can seek early medical intervention and you know that out-of-pocket payment will reduce and we get a healthier population,” he said.
According to NAN report, Infrastructure Concession and Regulatory Commission (ICRC) in 2019 had recommended that the 22 Teaching Hospitals in the country should be concessioned.