Health professionals proffers solutions to the challenges of the Nigeria Healthcare system

Healthcare leaders, experts, policy makers and researchers gather in Gombe to proffer solutions to the challenges of leadership in the Nigeria Healthcare System during the Nigeria Health Leadership Conference 2019.

The Nigeria Health Leadership Conference is a multi-professional gathering designed to facilitate sharing of knowledge, ideas and experience among health professionals, experts’ and stakeholders. The conference attracted participants from all fields including healthcare managers, policy makers, clinicians, public health practitioners, students and activists. The participants were engaged in a 2day preconference workshop focusing on sharpening their skills in leadership and management in Health. They also participated in group work, team building exercises, facilitated online interactions to reflect on the challenges of leadership and solutions in the Nigeria Healthcare system.

The conference lasted for 3 days from April 15th – 17th 2019 which was preceded by a 2 day preconference capacity building workshop facilitated by experts. At the end of the 2day workshop, participants were shared into three groups for a group work to identify the major leadership challenges in the Nigeria Health System and attempt to fix the puzzle; each group is made up of participants from various professional backgrounds.

Group A identified “Administrative bottle necks as one of the biggest leadership challenge in the Nigeria health system. The group in a 15 presentation led by Dr. Nuhu Bile noted that poor administrative know-how, inter-professional, interference from professional associations, lack of shared vision among stakeholders and lack of political will are top among the challenges faced by administrators of health system in Nigeria. The group after brainstorming on the above challenges came up with the following suggestions including; policy review, top up training in leadership and management, defining clear roles and responsibilities, encouraging team work and professionalism among health professionals.

Group B focuses on “the importance of accountability and transparency in the Nigeria healthcare system”. This group was led by Barrister Grace Atom identified weak monitoring and evaluation system, disharmony among team members and individual selfish interest as the major challenges affecting transparency in the health system. The group also listed number of solutions to improve transparency and accountability in the Nigeria health system including; fostering harmony, strengthening the monitoring and evaluation system and advocating for effective checks and balances.

Group C identified total lack of team work among the health team as one of the biggest challenge facing the Nigeria healthcare system. In a 15 minute presentation Dr. Abdulmajid who represented the group noted that; inter-professional conflicts, non-adherence to professional conflict, disparity in remuneration, quest for power, communication gaps and lack of mutual respect among the team members as the major problems affecting effective team work in the Nigeria Health team. The group suggested; Fairness in wages of healthcare workers, adherence to professional ethics and mutual respect among professionals as remedies to an effective health team.

The three groups believe that if the above suggestions are implemented, the needed sanity in the Nigeria Healthcare system will be achieved.

During the conference, healthcare leaders, researchers, policy makers and administrators are of the view that effective conflict management, strong teams and accountable leadership will transform the health system in Nigeria. The chairman of the governing board of the Gombe state Primary Health Development Agency; Alhaji Yahya Hammari suggested that professional health administrators should lead the healthcare facilities to achieve the desired results. The guest lecturer Dr. Muhammad Ibrahim Saddiq of Sheffield University UK noted that medical professionals are not equip to lead an organization, according to him, they require additional training to effectively lead an organization. Dr. Muhammad who is also a medical doctor said; “There is no training we had as doctors that prepares us to lead an organization and there is a massive body of knowledge required to lead an organization which is completely different from managing a patient”. Dr. Muhammad advocated that the patient should be the central focus of all the stakeholders. Each team member must focus on what the patient wants and how to deliver the patients’ needs without undue bureaucracies that doesn’t add value to patients’ needs.

Dr. Ebony White from Drexel University USA, call for effective conflict management through effective communication. She said; “It is important to note that communication is a lifeline for a well-functioning team, you cannot have a high performing health team without a great line of communication”.

Professor Aliyu Elnafaty; the Deputy Vice chancellor of Gombe state University calls for synergy among different professionals. Professor Elnafaty charges government to take a decision and be firm on the rules set for the health team. He suggested everybody most be carried along to achieve the desired results.

The Honorable commissioner of Health Gombe State; Dr. Ishaya Kennedy during his remarks commended the organizers and the participants of the conference and urge the participants to make good use of the skills learned from this conference to make their organizations better. He appreciated Dr. Ebony White who travelled all the way from Drexel University USA to come and train our health leaders on healthcare leadership and all other resource persons.

The Founder/CEO of Rural Health Mission Nigeria who is also the convener of the conference noted that The Objectives of the conference is to encourage collaborations among health professionals and stakeholders, provide platform for exchange of ideas, networking opportunities, discuss quality initiatives in healthcare and increase visibility of healthcare innovations. We also hope to improve accountability and financial prudence in health institutions. He is confident that the 10 module course taken by the participants will expose them to practical skills to manage and lead their teams and organizations to success.

The conference had in attendance over 100 participants from different locations across the country. The conference is convened by a nonprofit organization Rural Health Mission Nigeria in partnership with Gombe State Ministry of Health.

To view photos from the conference, click HERE

Report by the organizing team