Wednesday, May 03, 2006

Are Nigerian (Healthcare) Managers Simply Incompetent?

Following the EthnicLoft's introduction of the multi-authored Nigerian university blog Unilag Faces, I have spent some time perusing the entries on the site. The site do offer some unique insight on issues commonly discussed on the Nigerian blogosphere. This post "Bad Theatre conditions" is one of such.

The author, Pablo, writes about an emergent surgery done on an accident victim at the University of Lagos Teaching Hospital (LUTH) where the "Surgeons had to operate on the patient in a very hot and humid environment. The main problem here is that, the air-conditioners have been out of use for so many months..."

Now, one can start stating the obvious and ranting about the poor funding of hospitals and other public institutions in Nigeria. Well, that is getting a bit stale I'm afraid.

What has the LUTH hospital management done to source funds and endowments from the private sector and wealthy individuals in Lagos? After all Lagos is the financial and business capital of Nigeria.

The non-functioning air-conditioners at LUTH, is just one example of the poor managerial skill of some of those running public institutions in Nigeria. Now, I won't be surprised at all if the LUTH CEO's office has working air-conditioners...

If Nigerian healthcare administrators can't manage air-conditioners, how can they formulate and successfully implement policies? Do they even have the skill-sets necessary for the successful management of major grants and projects?

At present, Nigeria may lose a $50-million-grant because of some administrative blunder:
"One of the main financiers of Nigeria's fight against HIV/AIDS halted about $50 million in assistance on Friday [April 28, 2006] because the country failed to meet targets on drug access and transparency. The board of the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria voted to suspend two five-year grants after just two years because of low numbers of people on anti-retroviral drug treatment and concerns over data accuracy..."
Nigeria was first suspended from the Global AIDS Funds in December 2005, that decision was later rescinded after reassurrance from the Nigerian president. In addition, the government promised to provide free anti-retroviral drugs:
"Nigeria's government will provide all anti-retroviral drugs needed to fight HIV/Aids free of charge..."Those that are already receiving the treatment that were paying that token money will just be getting the drugs free of charge. [For new patients] all the drugs will also be given to them free of charge..."--Nigeria to offer free Aids drugs on BBC, December 23 2005.
This promise definitely holds no water. This is also a sad confirmation that Nigeria has a serious problem- the absence of seasoned and qualified managers at the helms of affairs. It is disturbing that even when there is access to free money through grants, some Nigerian bureaucrats (or technocrats) can still find ways to mess things up. This is preposterous!