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Antenatal, Child Delivery Services Not Free In Lagos-Owned Hospitals – Residents Lament

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Some residents of Lagos have decried the non-implementation of the state government’s free antenatal and child delivery services at some General Hospitals and Primary Healthcare Centres in the state.

The residents spoke in separate interviews with the News Agency of Nigeria on Sunday in Lagos.

NAN reports that Lagos State Governor, Babajide Sanwo-Olu, had, during a media chat on February 22, announced sweeping interventions which the state would be implementing to reduce the effects of the current economic hardship on its citizens.

On health, Sanwo-Olu reintroduced a free child delivery programme for expectant mothers in all the state-owned General Hospitals and special maternity centres.

According to the governor, the state government will take up the cost of the child delivery, including caesarean section.

It would also reduce the cost of certain drugs, such as hypertension medication.

The residents said that the free antenatal and child delivery services were lip-service, stressing that the hospitals charged for every service rendered.

Mrs Funmilayo Olatunji, a trader who delivered at Ikorodu Health Centre, Ita-Elewa, said that delivery wasn’t free at the centre.

“I had normal delivery at the centre in February 2024. We paid N8,000 for child delivery fees, N10,500 for vaginal tear, and a carton of Maltina.

“I’m surprised to hear that the child delivery service was meant to be free at government facilities because the reverse was my experience,” she said.

Similarly, Mr Michael Adebiyi, whose wife delivered at Ikorodu General Hospital, Ebute, said he spent over N250,000 for caesarean section delivery and consumables at the hospital.

“My wife gave birth in February, and we paid for everything needed for the delivery from blood to caesarean section charges.

“Nothing was free; in fact, I’m still owing some people because I had to run around to source for the money.

“I was happy when I heard last year that expectant mothers would enjoy free child delivery services at government health facilities as part of relief measures to ease economic burden on families.

“The government should put mechanism in place to ensure that policies made truly impact on the lives of citizens,” he said.

Also, Mrs Stella Nwosu, a hairstylist, said that she switched to a trado-medical centre for antenatal and child delivery due to the high service charges.

“Sometimes in September, I went to Amuwo-Odofin General Hospital to register for antenatal service and was told to pay ₦30,000.

“We couldn’t afford it because every child care item is expensive and to feed is even a challenge. My mother-in-law took me to a traditional birth attendant, and I delivered my baby there,” she said.

A healthcare worker, who pleaded anonymity, told NAN that many pregnant women pay out-of-pocket for antenatal and delivery services at many government-owned facilities.

She opined that the programme required improved planning, compliance monitoring, and management for sustainability.

The healthcare worker noted that the economic situation of the country, which led to increased cost of products, especially medicines and healthcare services, would worsen the plight of couples with unplanned pregnancy.

She advised couples to take smart decisions, stressing that child care was a lifelong socio-economic experience that extends beyond access to free antenatal and child delivery services.

NAN reports that Gov. Babajide Sanwo-Olu, also in 2023, during the state’s Security Council meeting on July 31, 2023, had directed General Hospitals and Primary Health Care Centres to offer free antenatal care and child delivery services.

This is part of relief measures to ease the burden of the fuel subsidy removal.

The medical intervention will cover the cost of antenatal care, including the cost of registration and ANC clinics, as well as normal and cesarean section child delivery services.

It also seeks to increase access to quality maternal and child health services in line with the state government’s Universal Health Coverage attainment drive.

NAN

Health

President Tinubu Orders Zero Tax On All Imported Drugs

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President Tinubu has introduced zero tax on all imported drugs with a new executive order.

JomogNews Nigeria reports that President Bola Tinubu has signed an executive order to introduce zero tariffs, excise duties and Value-Added Tax (VAT) on imported pharmaceutical inputs, a statement by the coordinating Minister of Health and Social Welfare, Muhammad Ali Pate, said.

This Nigeria news platform understands that Pate said the order introduced zero tariffs, excise duties, and Value-Added Tax (VAT) on specified machinery, equipment, and raw materials imported for pharmaceutical production.

His words: “In a transformative move to revitalize the Nigerian health sector, His Excellency President Bola Ahmed Tinubu, GCFR @officialABAT, has signed an Executive Order aiming to increase local production of healthcare products (pharmaceuticals, diagnostics, devices such as needles and syringes, biologicals, medical textile, etc.).

“The Minister of Justice and Attorney General of the Federation @FedMinOfJustice, Prince Lateef Olasunkanmi Fagbemi SAN, @LOFagbemi, is to now take the next steps towards codifying the new Order.”

The Minister noted that the order is crucial to the success of the initiative for unlocking the healthcare value chain (PVAC_NG), which was approved in October 2023 by the president.

“The Order introduces zero tariffs, excise duties and VAT on specified machinery, equipment and raw materials, aiming to reduce production costs and enhance our local manufacturers’ competitiveness,” he said.

“Specified items include Active Pharmaceutical Ingredients (APIs), excipients, other essential raw materials required for manufacturing of crucial health products like drugs, syringes and needles, Long-lasting Insecticidal Nets (LLINs) and Rapid Diagnostic Kits, among others.

“The Order also provides for establishing market shaping mechanisms such as framework contracts and volume guarantees, to encourage local manufacturers.”

The order, according to the statement also mandated collaboration among relevant ministries and agencies, including the Nigeria Customs Service (NCS), National Agency for Food and Drug Administration and Control (NAFDAC), Standard Organisation of Nigeria (SON), and Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS), to ensure swift implementation and reduce regulatory bottlenecks.

The order, according to Pate, provides market-based incentives to encourage medical industrialization, reduce costs of medical products through import substitution, create and retain economic value, and enable job creation in the healthcare value chain.

The waivers and exemptions will be effective for two years.

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LASUTH Prepared For Cholera Outbreak In Lagos – Management

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The Lagos State University Teaching Hospital has said it is on red alert and prepared to address the possible spread of cholera disease in Lagos.

The management of LASUTH spoke in response to the death of five persons and hospitalisation of scores of others showing symptoms of the disease in Lagos, saying it has put its healthcare workers on red alert and other stakeholders on notice in readiness for a possible spread.

The management of the state-owned health facility In a statement issued on its X handle @LASUTHIkeja on Wednesday morning, declared its readiness to manage the possible spread of the disease, saying precautionary measures in response to an outbreak have been set on course.

The statement reads: “This is to inform the general public that precautionary measures have been put in place by the management of Lagos State University Teaching Hospital, LASUTH concerning the cholera outbreak in Lagos.

“It’s on record that scores of patients presented yesterday, Tuesday 11th June 2024 to some healthcare facilities across the state with features in keeping with cholera.

“Consequently, it is important to inform the general public that the only state-owned tertiary healthcare facility, LASUTH, is on red alert and our healthcare workers as well as other stakeholders have been put on notice in readiness for a possible spread as ours is a referral facility.

“In addition, good hygiene practice, provision of clean water at all service points and effective treatment of those presenting with symptoms of gastroenteritis are part of some measures being put in place by the management.

“Lastly, everyone is encouraged to stay informed and take preventive measures to help mitigate the spread of the disease.”

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Health

Just In: FG Orders Massive Recruitment Of Doctors, Nurses

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FG has ordered for the massive recruitment of Doctors and Nurses to fill the gap created by the ‘Japa’ syndrome across Nigeria.

JomogNews Nigeria reports that the federal government has directed federal teaching hospitals to accelerate their hiring processes for medical professionals, including doctors and nurses, to prevent a shortage of healthcare workers being created by ‘Japa’ syndrome.

This Nigeria news platform understands that the federal government also reaffirmed its commitment to enhancing the well-being and safety of medical professionals and upgrading all government-run healthcare facilities nationwide.

The move to employ medical professionals was disclosed at a meeting convened by the minister of state for labour and employment, Nkeiruka Onyejeocha, in her office, where she met with representatives from the Federal Ministry of Health and the leadership of the Nigerian Association of Resident Doctors (NARD) led by its national president, Dr Dele Abdullahi.

The meeting discussed and resolved issues brought forward by the association to the ministry.

In a statement by the minister‘s media adviser, Emameh Gabriel, he said the leadership of the medical association presented their grievances to the minister.

The meeting agreed on the urgent need to address the issues, including unresolved matters inherited from the previous administration.

The pressing concerns are inadequate compensation, delayed payments of allowances, insufficient training funds, issues with the Integrated Payroll and Personnel Information System (IPPIS), poor working conditions and security threats, notably the recent incident at the Federal Teaching Hospital, Lokoja in Kogi State.

Although the government acknowledged the concerns of the medical community, it assured that efforts are underway to resolve the issues, with some already addressed and others in various stages of implementation.

Additionally, relevant agencies are working to tackle specific problems, with the belief that improved working conditions and benefits will incentivize healthcare professionals who have left the country to return.

In her remarks, the minister expressed gratitude to the association for its willingness to work together and acknowledged their recognition of the government‘s achievements in specific areas, stating the positive outcomes of their cooperation.

She said: „I had earlier heard about some of your concerns raised, and of which I deemed very serious. I share in your concerns and I am here to let you know that the government is poised to improve your standard, believing that when you are treated well, those who left our country will return, because Nigeria is the best place to stay.

I believe that strike is the last option. That is why I wouldn‘t want to wait till strike notice is issued.

“I have heard what you have said. The good thing is that we have been very cooperative, and I will reach out to my colleagues whose offices fall within the duties of certain issues you have raised. So that we will know how to fast-track solutions. I am glad that you acknowledged some of the areas the Ministry of Health has addressed and how they have been ‘proactive.’ I am promising you that we have a government that is responsible and proactive. Our President is committed and pushes us to ensure that we do not leave the situation of things the way we met them.“

The permanent secretary, Ministry of Health, Daju Kachollom, who represented the minister of health, acknowledged the issues and noted that the Ministry of Health was working with other relevant ministries to address the concerns, including power supply and security.

She said the 2024 budget has provisions for solar power in all federal tertiary hospitals.

Finally, she announced that the Ministry of Health had instructed teaching hospitals to double their intake of doctors and nurses.

She said: “In our health sector, our doctors are no doubt the best paid, but their remuneration needs to be improved. I wish the Federal Ministry of Finance and the accountant general were here to say more, because the issue of remuneration cannot be solved only by the Ministry of Labour, and the Ministry of Health.

“On the issue of power, the federal minister of health is in touch with the ministry of power. In the 2024 budget, there is a provision for solar power for federal tertiary hospitals. On the issue of Japa, everyone is ‘japaing’ for several reasons and we are putting in our best to ensure we do not lack manpower in our health sector.”

 

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