“When health workers are at risk, we are all at risk,” Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, Director-general, WHO.
Prior to the outbreak of the unexpected Coronavirus (Covid-19) pandemic in the world, everyone was talking about the Iran and USA brawl. To some extent, others were anticipating another global war (World War III). But amidst all that was happening, no one was concerned about how to save lives by enhancing our health facilities; instead we envisioned the possibility of another world war, that will of no doubt result to many deaths. Perhaps the worse in the history of humanity. Ironically enough, ever since the outbreak of the covid-19 pandemic, the world has recorded more than 82,000 deaths with more than 1.43 million people contracting the deadly virus; which indicates that more mortality rate could be recorded. Some world leaders also showed their concerns and worries, that this is the first time since the World War II that so many people have died globally in an alarming rate.
In Nigeria, the government has proposed to the National Assembly for the approval of N500 billion naira for the fight against Covid-19. This is the highest ever garnered towards the fighting of a disease, conspicuously for improving our healthcare sector. For the first time since the dawn of democracy in Nigeria, citizens (especially those considered the first-class citizens) are beginning to have confidence in the capability of our healthcare workers.
The 2020 Nigeria budget has it that N427.3 billion naira is to be allocated to the healthcare sector. Now consider the fact that according to the World Health Organization (WHO) Nigeria is “the country where nearly 20 percent of a global maternal deaths happen. Between 2005 and 2015, it is estimated that over 600,000 maternal deaths and no less than 900,000 maternal near-miss cases occurred in the country. UNICEF has it that 4.3 million children still miss out of immunization every year in Nigeria. Nigeria’s malaria fact sheet estimated that there are over 300,000 malaria deaths per year with 100 million cases. Yet despite the poor condition of Nigeria’s healthcare sector, never has so much been budgeted to improve the facilities or to combat the diseases we have against us. But in less than a month, N500 billion naira is to be released to combat Covid-19— which is a good step if utilized appropriately.
The poor condition of our healthcare sector has largely affected our production capacity, and in turn affected our economy. Many Nigerians are lacking adequate health treatment as a result of this. This has also resulted to the spending of huge amounts of money by many Nigerians seeking healthcare overseas.
The Covid-19 pandemic will definitely cause a fall in our economy, but it could also be the reason our economy will strengthen in the hereafter. The reason being that the government is now engaging more healthcare workers in the fight against Covid-19, and hopefully they will be retained and employed after the pandemic. With the engagement of more healthcare workers into our public healthcare sector, more Nigerians will have the adequate healthcare they deserve. In return, there would be more healthy citizens to drive the economy to greater heights.
The Nigerian government is now encouraging and supporting the production of local healthcare and essential facilities more than ever before, thereby reducing the over-dependence on developed countries, and also reducing the cost of importing similar products that we are capable of manufacturing locally. If this continues after the pandemic, not only will more Nigerians be employed but we will have the diversified economy we have always wanted. This is because the agricultural, mining and other relevant sectors will further increase production of raw materials for the manufacturing of these facilities. The outbreak of the Covid-19 maybe the reason for the revival and establishment of more local industries in the country. With the present situation, I believe we have learnt a valuable lesson that “health is wealth”, and ‘it is better to be caught prepared than to be notified when off guard’. From all indications the government have started and will continue to focus more on improving our local facilities, so as to prevent the future occurrence of such pandemic in the country.
I believe that irrespective of the negative effects that the Covid-19 pandemic might bring, it may also be the turning point we need to correct our long-term mistakes. By the end of this pandemic, we could be having one of the best if not the best healthcare facilities in Africa.