By HPRG News
The effects of COVID-19 pandemic continue to bite health systems, particularly those of low-resource regions. Quoting the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development, “The COVID-19 pandemic has shown how vulnerabilities in health systems can have profound implications for health, economic progress, trust in governments, and social cohesion”. The question of strengthening health systems has been recurring since the pandemic and has gotten more answers than actions. However, the conversations must not cease, as it is needful to keep discovering and reminding ourselves of those areas in our health system that have been affected by the pandemic, while underscoring practicable solutions. It is in this regard that Professor Obinna Onwujekwe of the Departments of Health Administration & Management/Pharmacology & Therapeutics and the Health Policy Research Group, University of Nigeria delivered a lecture, titled “Impact of COVID-19 pandemic on healthcare delivery in Nigeria” at the 16th Annual Scientific Conference and All Fellows’ Congress of the Postgraduate Medical College Fellows’ Association that held at Eko Hotels & Suites, Victoria Island, Lagos in August 2022.
Figure 1: Cross-section of participants
Prof Obinna questioned the resilience of Nigeria’s health system for its failure to achieve the health-related MDGs and its slow pace toward the 2030 health-related SDGs targets. He showcased the indicators that reveal low-level access to quality healthcare services in Nigeria and minimal financial risk protection for health service users. He discussed further how the pandemic disrupted the delivery of essential health services like antenatal, post-partum, intrapartum care, family planning, vaccination services as well as treatment of non-communicable diseases, as health facilities were forced to shut down, some even shutting down unofficially. The impacts of this lack of resilience on morbidity and mortality cannot be overstated. For instance, UNICEF projected that an additional 950 Nigerian children might die every day from preventable causes over the next six months as the COVID-19 pandemic disrupted routine services. The figure below shows the steep downward dive in antenatal visits as the pandemic persisted: