The detention of one Mrs. Angela Morgan and her baby in a private hospital in the Akute area of Ogun State over an unpaid bill of N160,000 again brings to the fore the healthcare problems in the country. Her case is a metaphor for all that is wrong in a country with a dysfunctional health insurance. This brings back sad memories of the long drawn battle between the National Health Insurance Scheme (NHIS) Secretary and the Minister of Health that just eloquently speaks to the value public officers place on the health of citizens.
Beyond delivering her baby through Caesarean section, the woman seems to have some underlying illnesses because her husband reportedly said she needed two pints of blood to be transfused into her but he could only afford to pay for a pint. The woman is too sick to either walk, work or breastfeed her baby. The hospital has equally stopped attending to both mother and child.
This has dire consequences for the family of Mrs. Morgan and the nation. The husband cannot be fully productive given the psychological impact of what his family is going through. The baby is missing the most valued nutrition at birth – breast milk. Given the poor health of the mother, the parental bonding would be missing and this is not too good for the baby’s development. The lack of attention for the mother and the child equally implies that the baby must have missed all the necessary neonatal immunisations. No child should be subjected to what this baby is facing. Neither should this mother die in a country with the resources and human capital available in Nigeria.
Both the mother and child are supposed to enjoy certain rights as enshrined in some United Nations Charter as regards human and child rights. In a country with one of the highest maternal and child mortality rates, this story must be a wake-up call for the health authorities and the governments at both federal and state levels to restructure the health insurance scheme and equally upgrade the government hospitals in states so that the poor can access affordable healthcare. Health is wealth and while Nigeria is not known to care about statistics and functional data, cases like this under review should be the red flag that authorities need to act.
Global institutions like the UN and WHO have repeatedly warned Nigeria about paying little attention to the education and health sectors. Even when there are global benchmarks for budgetary allocations, Nigeria repeatedly neglects them. Consequently, these two very vital sectors have been in steady decline and the evidence is seen all over with the very poor economy that the country has. If health is wealth and education is the bedrock of development, it logically follows that each nation’s growth is symptomatic of their investment in the education and health sectors.
The NHIS must be made very functional so as to save lives. The dubious Health Maintenance Organisations (HMOs) that racketeer with funds in their care must be reined in and held accountable. Human capital is the soul of any nation and as such, governments must make sure that lives are preserved and the quality of living high enough to make citizens productively happy. Being the most populous black nation must equally be made valuable through making sure that healthcare is affordable