Leadership and Governance for Health

Saturday, 13 June 2009

The World Health Organization recently declared that the HINI virus infection had reached a pandemic status. All countries are therefore expected to maximize efforts at preventing incidence of infection and also controlling its occurence.

It is heart warming to know that an earlier rumor of occurence of a case in Nigeria was later dispelled by the country's health authorities. However, some important questions remain given the way Nigeria's health system is structured and functions. Most importantly, how will the health sector respond if patients begin to show up with the symptoms or cases actually occur? Will interventions targeted at prevention and control be done through the primary, secondary or tertiary health care? How and who will coordinate such efforts and are there functional coordination mechanisms in existence to effectively do this? This questions were unanswered in China prior to the Avian flu pandemic and the country is yet to recover from the devastating effects of that pandemic.

Even if these questions are unanswered, it is worth stating that thesame critical questions highlight the dishevelled nature of the health system which the current health minister has admitted needs to be fixed. Such a situation does not just affect the index pandemic but reflects a fundamental challenge to improving health care delivery and overall health outcomes in Nigeria.

In the mean time, it might only be feasible to wish and hope that the virus does not sneak into Nigeria, and that policy makers, politicians and stewards of the health sector would begin to think deeply and constructively about how to correct current anomalies in the country's health system.

Wednesday, 10 June 2009

The interest in health economics, policy and efficient ways of financing health care is growing in Nigeria and other west African countries. A recent conference in Ghana had in attendance several academics, researchers and policy makers from west Africa who work in the areas of health policy and systems. The HPRG Nigeria participated strongly in that conference and has, through its research activities remained committed to providing relevant information for evidence based policy making. It is believed that with the increasing interest and activity in development of appropriate health policies, policy makers, health care providers and the civil society would progressively improve on use of evidence generated by researchers and academics in Nigeria and other west African countries to improve health policies and implementation practices. Individuals and institutions involved in health economics and systems research and learning thus have an enormous task of generating and communicating relevant evidence, and the overrall goal of isolated or collective action should be to make such evidence of high quality and tailored to prevailing political, social, institutional and economic context characteristics of the the sub-continent and indeed the whole of Africa.