By Joseph Erunke
WORRIED at the level of malfeasance in public health institutions in the country, the federal government, Monday, promised to deal with the menace through the imminent introduction of a fully automated electronic management system of patients’ records and finances.
The government also vowed to strengthen accountability and transparency in public health institutions with the establishment of Electronic Medical Records, EMR, saying this would help in for efficiency and accountability in service delivery
Minister of Health, Dr. Osagie Ehanire, who stated these yesterday, in a keynote address he delivered at a media engagement organized by the Federal Ministry of Health, promised that the government would strengthen “a framework that mandates quarterly financial reporting on critical funding lines, in line with the provisions of the National Health Act 2014.”
Hear him: “A fully automated electronic management system of patient records and finances will be introduced by NHIS to plug loopholes for leakages and to also allow client records to be accessible anywhere the client seeks care in Nigeria, for better, faster service,” he disclosed.
“The Federal Ministry of Health is working to strengthen accountability and transparency, with the establishment of Electronic Medical Records (EMR) at Federal Tertiary hospitals, for efficiency and accountability in service delivery and a framework that mandates quarterly financial reporting on critical funding lines, in line with the provisions of the National Health Act 2014.”
Noting that “COVID-19 has brought attention to the health systems of all countries like never before” where according to him, “Respected and otherwise resilient systems have been nearly brought to their knees by the sheer volume of patients they have to cater to, and some have had to face embarrassing scarcity of simple items like face masks or sanitizers”, he said the federal government was looking into emplacing an effective and efficient health system in the country.
“All countries will no doubt be reexamining their health systems which are why it has been said that the COVID-19 outbreak offers an opportunity to restructure, or even rebuild health systems.
“Nigeria’s health system has not fared so badly so far in the global covid19 outbreak, but we nonetheless have good reason to also examine our not-so-strong health system, which is why we are here gathered today with stakeholders, partners, donors, civil society, academia, and well-wishers,” he said.
At the occasion, the ministry shared with stakeholders a brief look at the country’s health system, its structures, organizations, and functions, as well as plans and aspirations, while the component organs of the ministry and departments and agencies briefly related their experiences and also share the plans and aspirations of the Ministry of Health, as it concerns their sectors and as enshrined in the National Strategy Health Development Plan 2,
He said Expert Advisory Committees of the Federal Ministry of Health was working on ways to empower the National Tertiary Health Institutions Standards Committee, reduce the current imbalance between primary, secondary, and tertiary health care, and ensure active private sector involvement in the health sector.
“Health Insurance for the elderly and retirees is currently under review. We have developed and deployed for use, the National Master Facility List: a Health Facility Registry with information on public and private health facilities in Nigeria,” he also said.
Noting also that, “Traditional, Complementary and Alternative Medicine has generated much attention in the wake of COVID-19 outbreak”, the minister said: “Government has established a Department of Traditional, Complementary, and Alternative Medicine (TCAM) at the ministry and will standardize and harness herbal natural resources for studies and research.”
“We shall review and deploy National Health Information Management System data collection tools, instructional manual, and training guide to improving collection and management of Integrated Routine Health Data in Nigeria,” he added.
According to him, “While the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic has been devastating around the world, we have used the opportunity to work on our health system and upgraded laboratory assets, treatment centers and ICUs.”
He attributed this to “the generosity of partners and donors, national and international.”
” We have also developed a National Health Sector COVID-19 Pandemic Action Plan (NAHCPRAP) which builds on existing covid19 pandemic response plans, as the health sector road map to guide this process. We shall be pursuing an agenda that puts Health in All Policies as part of our health security architecture,” he further stated.
He said:” The first set of candidate vaccines are already being rolled out abroad”, adding that “the Ministry of Health is working with stakeholders to ensure that Nigeria will benefit from high-quality vaccines when they are to be deployed.”
” We are part of the COVAX facility, an initiative backed by WHO and GAVI to ensure equitable access to COVID-19 vaccines to Low and Lower Middle-income countries like Nigeria.
“A high-level team will guide discussions on the subject through FMOH technical working group at NPHCDA, which is the Secretariat for Vaccine Logistics and operations.
“Details will be made known to the public as they develop. We are also working on various Research options at the Nigeria Institute of Medical Research and the Nigeria Biovaccine Ltd, is on standby to pursue domestic manufacture options,” he further said.
Participants at the media engagement included development partners, religious and traditional leaders, legislators, academia, government and non-government agencies, CSOs, and the media.