Minutes of Meeting: ANPA’s Delegetion and the Nigerian Senate and House Committee on Health, 2/25/2014










In picture taken with the NASS rotunda background are from L-> R: Abraham Osinbowale (Chair, Advocacy Committee); Michael Etomi (President); Julius Kpaduwa (Past President); Wale Sulaiman(Chair,Consultancy Committee) and Elie Okirie (MANSAG-UK).

See link to video of the event:  http://youtu.be/x-npevJjnVM

Present: Dr. Michael Etomi (ANPA President), Dr. Julius Kpaduwa (Past ANPA President), Dr. Abraham Osinbowale  (Chair, ANPA’s Advocacy Committee), Professor Wale Sulaiman (Chair, ANPA’s Consultancy Committee), Dr. Eliezar Okirie (Immediate Past Secretary, MANSAG) for ANPA and MANSAG.

Distinguished Senator Ifeanyi Okowa (Chairman, Senate Committee on Health), Senator Margerey Chuba Okadigbo (Vice Chairman, Senate Committee on Health), Senator Babajide Omoworare (Member), Senator Adegbenga Kaka (Member), Senator Paulinus Igwe (Member), Senator Chris Ngige (Member), Honourable Ndudi Godwin Elumelu (Chairman, House Committee on Health), Honourable Dr. Ibrahim Olaifa (Member), Honourable Pharmacist Abdul Msheliza (Member), Honourable Abdulsalam Adamu (Member), Honourable Dr. Pat Asadu (Member), Honourable Adejaiye (Member), Mr. Danladi Angelu (Clerk, Committee on Health), Mr. Nasiru Garba (Clerk, House Committee on Health).

Location: National Assembly, Abuja, Nigeria

The meeting was called to order at 2:10 pm by the Chairman of the Senate Committee on Health, Senator Ifeanyi Okowa who thereafter said the opening prayer. This was followed by self introductions by the attendees. Senator Okowa then gave his opening remarks about the importance of the meeting coming at an opportune time shortly after the Senate version of the National Health Bill was passed and the final version is pending the passing of the Bill at the House of Representatives to which honorable Ndudi Elumelu, the Chairman of the House Committee responded that the House will pass the bill very soon. He commended the ANPA delegation for coming to address healthcare issues  with the legislative branch and he said the joint Senate and House Committees on Health are eager to hear ANPA’s presentation and suggestions on improving healthcare delivery in Nigeria. Senator Okowa’s opening remarks was followed by honorable Ndudi Elumelu’s remarks welcoming the ANPA team and also reiterating that his Committee will soon pass the National Health Bill recently passed by the Nigerian Senate and he and his Committee members are also looking forward to hear ANPA’s presentation and input towards the delivery of quality  healthcare to the Nigerian populace.

The meeting then moved to the business of the day with a presentation by the leader of the ANPA delegation, Dr. Michael Etomi (ANPA President) who started with ANPA’s Vision of “A Healthier Nigeria in a Healthier World” and ANPA’s Mission of looking after the interests of Nigerian Physicians in the Americas and by extension, by impacting the quality of healthcare delivery to Nigerians by leveraging the best-in-class skill sets of American-trained Nigerian physicians to help physicians and other healthcare workers who are trying their best in the Nigerian healthcare system. The topic of his presentation titled “Role of Diaspora in the Nigerian Healthcare Reform” was given under four headings as follows:

Situation: Nigeria’s low life expectancy of 47 years for men and women which is the lowest in West Africa despite Nigeria’s natural endowment and the nominal amount spent on health as a percentage of Nigeria’s GDP which is far below WHO recommendations.

Background: The need to be more innovative in the pharmaceutical sector similar to what India has done in the production of generic medications for better access and affordability. He spoke about the need for better use of internet technology for transfer of knowledge and skill sets especially in the areas of Specialty  and tertiary care, a role where ANPA can be very useful for the rapid transformation of Nigeria’s healthcare delivery system because of the availability of a considerable pool of highly skilled Nigerian physicians in the diaspora, while working with Nigerian physicians on the ground in areas of primary and secondary care.

Assessment: The need for disease prevention especially in Maternal and Child Health while preventing the scourge of chronic non-communicable diseases like hypertension, cancer and diabetes which are very rampant in our society and account for considerable morbidity, mortality and capital flight by enhancing capacity building through ANPA’s pool of highly skilled and state-of-the art Specialists in Public Health and Clinical Medicine. He mentioned the consequences of not acting quickly which has already led to substantial brain drain to western countries that have better facilities and can attract the brightest young physicians to their shores and the need for Nigeria to turn this around as a brain gain now that those bright physicians who have now acquired better skills are willing to share their knowledge and talents to make the Nigerian health system better if they are granted the opportunity. He also mentioned the economic consequences of poor health in terms of poor productivity input and capital flight out of the country from people seeking specialized care outside Nigeria. He went through slides showing Total Health Spending as a percentage of some countries’ GDP to contrast what Nigeria is spending.

Recommendations: He concluded with suggestions of increasing healthcare funding, training and mentoring of local healthcare workers by allocating resources (including human resources), exploring the availability  and offering of low interest loans (through the bank of Industry) to allow private entrepreneurs/professionals to invest in healthcare facilities and business ventures so as to be able to compete with foreigners like Indians and Turkey who obtain low interest  loans from their countries to set up well-equipped facilities/hospitals/diagnostic centers in Nigeria and are really not interested in capacity building but purely in it for the quick return on their investment whereas Nigerian entrepreneurs/professionals are more likely to do both as stakeholders in the healthcare system of their country. He also suggested that healthcare should be elevated to the level of agriculture, oil and energy sectors to give credence to the adage that “health is wealth” as part of the effort to truly transform Nigeria’s economy.

He recommended the following areas of collaboration to speed up the goals of transformation in the health sector:

  • Diaspora seats on the NCH and      MDCN
  • Continuing Medical Education      through ANPA/MANSAG Partnership
  • Exchange Program for capacity      building for various Specialties
  • Collaborative University and      Community Training sites with ANPA/MANSAG in acute care skills like BLS,      ALS and other workshops
  • Curriculum Development and Board  Certification and Re-certification

He then opened  it up for questions and discussions. There was very good exchange and contributions between the legislators and the ANPA/MANSAG delegation. The new curriculum developed by ANPA/MANSAG and submitted to the Federal Ministry of Health since 2012 after fifty years of the old Medical School curriculum is still to be implemented. The legislators promised to take the issue up with the Federal Ministry of Health and the MDCN. It was also resolved that specific areas that need improvement in the healthcare system under the  new National Health Bill should be addressed by ANPA and ANPA should employ ways of recognizing and using local resources (including human resources) in their attempt to help upgrade the quality of healthcare in the country. The need to encourage the involvement of the private sector other than government was also stressed.

The Joint Committee on Health had the following takeaway points which they have promised to pursue:

  1. Follow-up on the implementation      of the new Medical School curriculum.
  2. They will raise the question and      explore the availability of low interest rates for the Health Sector      during the forthcoming March 2014 Universal Health Summit.
  3. They will continue looking out      and encouraging the role of private healthcare funding and      investment.
  4. They will continue looking out      and encouraging the development of local pharmaceutical products and      generic medications.
  5. They will be more proactive in      their oversight activities in addition to their legislative responsibilities.

Professor Wale Sulaiman brought up the need for timelines and deliverables after such a good and important meeting. Senator Okowa stated that it is impossible for him to give a timeline but he promised that the Joint Committees will work very hard on implementing the five items listed above  during their remaining term of office and certainly a lot will be done this year. It was also resolved that there will be ongoing communications between ANPA/MANSAG and
the Joint Committees starting with the minutes of this meeting.

In the absence of further business discussions, the meeting was adjourned at 5:30 pm
These minutes are subject to review and adoption.

Respectfully submitted by,

Dr. Michael Etomi                                Dr. Abraham Osinbowale
ANPA President                                  Chair, ANPA’s Advocacy Committee