Says poor nutrition, hygiene, religious beliefs major factors for decreasing life expectancy Thousands ‘re dying due to patronage of miracle,magical healing centres,he adds
By Joseph Erunke
ABUJA- FORMER Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria,CBN and current member of the recently federal government-constituted Economic Advisory Council,Prof. Charles Soludo,Tuesday, said there were indications that Nigeria would not meet the United Nation’s, UN Sustainable Development Goals number three which he noted,”envisions that by 2030,all all countries should ensure healthy lives and promote wellbeing for all at all ages.”
This was as he attributed the decreasing life expectancy in the country to poor nutrition, hygiene as well as religious beliefs.
Soludo,speaking yesterday, at 26th Annual Development Forum of a non governmental organisation, Lift Above Poverty Organisation, LAPO,in Abuja,where he featured as Chairman,insisted that Nigeria was set to miss the UN SDG 2030 number three target.
Speaking on the paper, tagged:”Activating the Other Hand: Towards A Citizens’ Approach to Healthcare Delivery”,said:”The UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) number three envisions that by 2030 all countries should “ensure healthy lives and promote wellbeing for all at all ages.”*Prof. Chukwuma Charles Soludo
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“There are about 13 specific targets to meet this goal. From all indications, Nigeria is set to miss the targets and the SDG goal on health except some dramatic and systematic reforms are initiated and sustained from now until 2030,” he added.
According to him,”To tackle healthcare challenges at the roots requires decisive and comprehensive war on poverty, inequality, illiteracy or poor public health education, nutrition, water and sanitation, as well as provision of adequate and accessible public health facilities and insurance schemes.”
While noting that “Nigeria’s healthcare statistics are as scary as its poverty and unemployment statistics,”he said:”Using the average life expectancy as summary indicator of state of health of a society/country, it is evident that a strong correlation exists between the level of poverty/inequality and the state of health.”
“The global rankings of per capita income vis-à-vis average life expectancy of countries illustrate this point,” he said.
Soludo said:” Studies have shown that poverty is both a cause as well as a consequence of poor health.”
” This point should be self-evident. However, a careful examination of the country statistics will suggest that healthcare status is not always and everywhere a matter of just money (size of income per capita or poverty),”he added.
He spoke further: ” There are enough African examples to buttress this point. For example, while Nigeria Africa’s largest economy with per capita income of about $2,000 has a life expectancy of about 54 years, several poorer African countries (on per capita terms) have far higher life expectancies: Rwanda (68.75 years; $825); Ethiopia (66.33 years; $790); Eritrea (66.08 years; $1,100); DR Congo (60.48 years; $500), etc, etc.
” It is important to understand why an average Rwandese (with about one-third of the average income of a Nigerian) manages to live about 15 years longer.
“Furthermore, average or aggregate national statistics are useful in many cases, but for effective intervention programmes, we must carefully unpack the averages or aggregates.
“Spatial and demographic distributions of healthcare can be critical. In other words, when one churns out the statistics on Nigeria, someone might rightly ask: “which Nigeria are you referring to?”— are you referring to Lagos, Bayelsa, Anambra etc or are you referring to Sokoto, Katsina, Adamawa, Jigawa, Kebbi, Bauchi, Gombe, Zamfara, etc?
” Evidently, unpacking the healthcare statistics by state will reveal more about the prevalence of certain diseases or challenges by state and even by sex and age groups.
“Another country that probably mimics Nigeria in terms of having multiple enclaves within the same country is South Africa—with per capita income of $6,600 and yet with ‘average’ life expectancy of just 63.87 (far lower than Rwanda or Ethiopia which have lower than $1,000 per capita). The White South Africa is clearly different from the black South Africa. In these circumstances, a one-size-fits-all response package will definitely be inappropriate and ineffective.”
According to him,” Differentiated and targeted responses might be the way to go.”
The former CBN boss,who noted that:”Healthcare delivery is a multifaceted agenda,” said,” In the Western countries, it is noted that the great improvements in life expectancy especially in the 20th century had more to do with better nutrition, clean water and sanitation than merely the transformations in medical facilities. ”
He added:”New-born deaths may have as much to do with poor medical facilities as with the health/nutritional status of the mothers.
” If (as one of the NBS household surveys showed), some 32% of the population then were food-poor, and probably living in inhuman conditions with poor water and sanitary conditions, it is not difficult to draw conclusions about their health status—regardless of the availability and accessibility of health facilities.
“Of course, we know that access to standard health facilities is a key issue.
Individual lifestyle as well as superstitious and religious beliefs are critical in the overall healthcare delivery.”
“You are what you eat” is a famous quote. My wife says that the secret to a healthy living is: “Eat clean, exercise dirty”! Yet, a serious pushback says that “one thing must kill a man”— as an excuse for mostly dangerous indulgences.”
” Check out the drug epidemic among our youths, the reckless drinking and smoking habits of many, the addiction to processed foods, as well as lack of adequate physical exercise by most or resistance to periodic medical check-ups even for those who can afford such,”he said.
According to him,” Most people probably underestimate the impacts of superstitious and religious beliefs on healthcare delivery.”
” In a society where many have abdicated a sense of personal responsibility and every challenge, including ill-health, is caused either by the devil or bad people, and there are enough religious people to diagnose every sickness as coming from the devil or “sent by bad people or the enemies or even family members”, healthcare delivery faces peculiar challenges.
“Many people afflicted by HIV or cancer or even malaria/typhoid, pneumonia, measles, etc have been told by their religious mentors that they were suffering from “spiritual attacks” and therefore needed spiritual rather than medical treatments.
” In the circumstance, miracle/magical healing centres are growing faster than hospitals/health clinics—with thousands if not millions dying as a consequence.”
He noted with regret that,”Critical immunizations have been known to have been resisted in many places on account of superstitious beliefs and unfounded propaganda.”