Transforming Health care from ‘bottom four’ to ‘top three’ contributor to Nigeria’s GDP
The rebasing of Nigeria’s gross domestic product (GDP) stands at about USD 270 billion to USD 510 billion for 2013 making it the largest economy in Africa; before the economic recession in 2016/2017 which caused a sustained drop in her gross domestic product (GDP) of about 2.06 percent in the second quarters of 2016 after falling 0.36 percent in the previous three months.
The top three Nigeria’s GDP are Oil, Agriculture and Manufacturing while the bottom four includes; Education, Public administration and Healthcare.
So what is required to grow Healthcare from a 2billon naira industry to a 50 billion naira industry?
Below are key steps
1. Increase government spending on healthcare
The current expenditure on healthcare as at 2017 is 50billion for 140 billon people and government in past years spends 5% or less of national GDP unlike developed countries, 12-15% of their national GDP on Healthcare. If the increased spending is well utilized, and not diverted into private pockets, white elephant projects and wasteful spending will harness technology, jobs and number of people using the health care system. This would however grow the industry.
A significant chunk of the spending should be channelled to the private/non profit sector so as to harness increased efficiency, minimal wastage and increased return of investment. This spending can be invested in private hospitals, Admission centres, equipments, specialist group practises, Quality diagnostic centres and the use of technology.
2. The concession of Government hospitals to management experts
This compromise would help to manage the system, cutting out gross wastage, and underperformance in the sector. Bringing in management experts would promote increased productivity and not necessarily cost. In fact a well run organisation would lower cost and increase turnover of patients being attended to.
An example is the Garki Hospital Abuja story which has increased its productivity and runs more efficiently as well as increased the specialist services been rendered such as Kidney transplant, open heart surgery now that it is managed by NISA Premier specialist hospital, a private sector hospital.
3. Rebuilding the credibility of healthcare professionals
The repeated and incessant strikes by the different cedars of healthcare professionals over the last 10 years have greatly eroded the credibility and confidence the public has in this group. The evidence of this loss of public trust is evidence by the 1billion dollars Nigerians spend annually travelling to India for health care. The many Nigerians travelling are not the rich but middle class, who use family contributions, pension funds to seek specialist care that is mostly not available in Nigeria or sometimes may be.
The solution is simple, healthcare professionals must take ownership of their organisation. Have you ever heard of a business owner going on strike? They never do because their livelihood and financial security is dependent on the growth and functionality of their organisation.
Healthcare professionals need to acquire relevant skills to manage their organisation profitably or relinquishing management to experts who may not be healthcare professionals/ clinicians.
The different healthcare professional groups need to ensure that lifelong learning is a true professional culture and ascertain that when conferences, trainings take place there is an actual increase in knowledge and skill which is not the case presently.
4. Marketing Healthcare to the general Public
The less educated Nigerian has very poor healthcare seeking habits. This is further compounded by clinicians been ‘Hostile and Unfriendly to Patients’. The mindset that the healthcare professional is doing the patient a favour should be completely reversed and the mantra ‘Customer is King’ must be the new reality.
Patients benchmark good healthcare differently from clinicians and their bench marks such as cordiality, support, friendliness and cost effectiveness are different from doctors who tend to care less about the patient’s feelings and focus solely on their clinical outcomes.
We need to make healthcare attractive, friendly and even entertaining if need be to ensure every Nigerian goes to the hospital as soon as they need to.
Dr. Adeyemi Doro.