LAGOS RANKS 8TH IN AFRICA FOR BEST HEALTHCARE: A TESTAMENT TO COLLABORATIVE EFFORTS OF HEALTH STAKEHOLDERS

LAGOS RANKS 8TH IN AFRICA FOR BEST HEALTHCARE: A TESTAMENT TO COLLABORATIVE EFFORTS OF HEALTH STAKEHOLDERS

By Olatunbosun Ogunbanwo

The recent ranking of Lagos as the 8th city with the best healthcare system in Africa by Numbeo, a renowned research firm specializing in quality of life data, reflects a significant milestone in the city’s healthcare landscape.

(https://www.numbeo.com/health-care/region_rankings_current.jsp?region=002)

This latest independent Health Index analysis, uses an elaborate algorithm which includes the general caliber of healthcare system, taking into account features like; skill and competency of medical staff, quantity and quality of health infrastructure, equipment for modern diagnosis and treatment, health resources, cost of care, and convenience of location and services. The algorithm, arrived at this latest ranking, indicating that modern, high-tech hospitals in both government and private sector are starting to expand in Lagos and other listed top-ranking cities in Africa.

This recognition using extensive analysis, is a commendable milestone that reflects the dedication and collaborative efforts of various stakeholders in Lagos State.

The top-tier ranking places Lagos in the league of Cape Town, Pretoria, Nairobi, Johannesburg, Durban, Algiers, Tunis, and ahead of Cairo and Casablanca as leading cities with best healthcare system in Africa, emphasizes the emergence of modern, state-of-the-art hospitals in Lagos.

Lagos owes this acknowledgment to the efforts and dedication of successive governance administrative strategic leadership in the State. President Bola Ahmed Tinubu who was the Executive Governor of Lagos State 2 decades ago, initiated the Lagos State health sector reform, which was continued by Governor Babatunde Fashola, Governor Akinwunmi Ambode, and the present Governor Mr Babajide Sanwo-Olu.  Each played successive pivotal roles in steering the healthcare sector towards excellence. Their successive administrations have focused on policies and infrastructural developments, facilitating the growth of high-quality healthcare facilities in the city. It is to the credits of their administrations that the Public-Private-Partnership in the health sector have blossomed, strengthened and harnessed thus increasing health coverage and ensuring improvement in the quality of care. This was perfectly exemplified during COVID.

Taking the lead from Government policy decisions in the Lagos Ehingbeti annual strategy summits, the private sector’s significant contribution cannot be overlooked, with its substantial investment in advancing healthcare services. Their role has been instrumental in complementing the government’s efforts, augmenting resources, and expanding healthcare access across Lagos State to our 25 million residents. The governance boards, notably the regulatory Health Facility Monitoring and Accreditation Agency (HEFAMAA), Lagos State Health Management Agency (LASHMA), Health Service Commission (HSC), LASUTH Board, Traditional Medicine Board,  Lagos State Blood Transfusion Service (LSBTS) amongst others have effectively regulated the health space, ensuring adherence to high standards and reduction of quackery, which has undoubtedly contributed to the city’s recognition.

Furthermore, commendations extend to the Lagos State University Teaching Hospital (LASUTH), Ikeja and the Lagos University Teaching Hospital (LUTH), Idi-Araba; the two tertiary institutions at the forefront of cutting-edge research, training and specialized healthcare. These institutions and their colleges of medicines have pushed boundaries, introducing cutting edge therapeutic modalities and demonstrating a quest to achieve excellence in healthcare delivery, despite facing challenges such as the COVID-19 pandemic, economic crises, and the prevalent issue of brain drain in the health sector.

Acknowledging the collaborative efforts among the three tiers of government – local, state, and federal – is crucial. Their collective support, both in policy formulation and resource allocation, has been pivotal in creating an environment conducive to healthcare advancements and improvements.

Also, among those crucial to this success are the innovative strategies and forward-thinking initiatives spearheaded by past and present Commissioners for Health in Lagos State. Dr. Leke Pitan, Dr. Jide Idris, and the current Commissioner, Prof. Akin Abayomi, all alumni of Kings College, who have been instrumental figures in steering the healthcare trajectory in Lagos. Their visionary leadership and strategic implementations have significantly contributed to the city’s healthcare advancements. Prof. Akin Abayomi is noteworthy for his commitment to fit for purpose eco and patient friendly infrastructure transformation, health systems strengthening, Public Private Partnerships (PPP) in the health sector, promoting CSR, fostering diaspora collaborations which have enhanced service delivery and widened healthcare access across the state. His expertise in Internal medicine, Biosecurity and Pathology has enabled him to protect the vibrant economy of Lagos from biological shocks which are capable of collapsing economies.

An essential pillar in this journey towards improved healthcare standards is the unwavering dedication and commitment of the entire health workforce. From core medical professionals to allied healthcare personnel, their relentless efforts have been pivotal in ensuring enhanced access to Universal Health Coverage (UHC) for Lagosians. Their hard work, resilience, and commitment to delivering quality care in the face of challenges like Ebola and the COVID-19 pandemic, economic uncertainties, and workforce-related issues deserve recognition and appreciation.

Speaking to the current Commissioner of Health, Akin Abayomi ascribed the strides made by Lagos in healthcare to consistent strategic policies, unwavering political will, innovative approaches, and the combined efforts of past and present administrations, regulatory bodies, private sector investments, healthcare institutions like LASUTH and LUTH. He spoke very highly of the commitment of the States health workforce that have collectively propelled Lagos to this prestigious and encouraging ranking. He indicated that Lagos still has much to do in achieving Universal Healthcare Coverage and attaining the States target of being a model megacity medical tourism destination for Africa, but said he was optimistic and that this independent poll indicates that Lagos is already achieving the status of being a medical tourism destination location, which will start to demonstrate quality health seeking behavior of Africans as a major contributor to the economy of Lagos State in terms of job creation, human capital development and inbound foreign exchange flows. He was confident that the administration’s new ideas would soon bring the realization of the lofty dreams. He used the opportunity to express the governments gratitude for some of the big donor agencies and key stakeholders like the WHO, Global Fund, BMGF, EU, GIZ and other major donor partners for supporting the Lagos government in attaining some of social gains in health care delivery.

In conclusion, Lagos’s rise in healthcare rankings serves as a testament to the synergy between public and private sectors, the unwavering commitment of successive administrations, the effective governance boards, and the dedication of healthcare institutions. This recognition reaffirms Lagos’s position as a hub for quality healthcare provision and underscores the potential for continued growth and innovation in the sector. This recognition serves not only as a testament to the city’s progress but also as a catalyst for further improvements and innovations in healthcare. Lagos remains committed to its pursuit of excellence, fostering a healthcare environment that ensures the well-being and health of its populace, while continuously striving for better standards and accessibility in healthcare services.

‘Tunbosun Ogunbanwo is the Director of Public Affairs, Lagos State Ministry of Health