A Medical Imaging Scientist, Dr Livinus Abonyi, on Friday called on the federal government to tackle all of forms poverty with greater vigour, in order to reduce the burden of ill health in the country.
Abonyi, who is a lecturer in the Department of Medical Radiography, Faculty of Clinical Sciences at the University of Lagos, College of Medicine, made the call while speaking with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in Lagos.
He said that poverty contributes to ill health, which in turn aggravates the level of poverty.
According to him, such a trend ends up having adverse effects on the country’s health indices.
Citing a report by the World Health Organisation (WHO) Abonyi said that pneumonia kills most people, while diarrhoea, pneumonia and malaria account for nearly half of all child deaths globally.
“Living in poverty can have a devastating effect on health; and poor health leads to poverty.”
“In a typical and common Nigerian setting where more than five people live in a room apartment – this is not healthy, as overcrowded and poor living conditions can contribute to the spread of airborne diseases,” he said.
Abonyi explained that the causes of poor health for millions globally are rooted in political, social and economic injustice, saying that poverty was both a cause and a consequence of poor health.
He added that poverty increases the chances of poor health and poor health, in turn, traps communities in poverty.
The World Bank recognises the relationship between economic development and health.
“It also recognises that the poor health indices in most developing countries are as a result of entrapment in a vicious circle of unrelieved poverty.”
“As we all know, the health of a nation is her wealth.”
“Therefore, for our economy to be more vibrant, we need to pay more attention to the health and welfare of the population and of course the health sector,” he said.
Abonyi said that, to improve on the poor health indices, healthcare policies must be inclusive of all socio-economic strata.
He said tackling the structural causes of poverty and poor health, “for example, calling for measures to tackle inequality and injustice, are central to what is needed from the government.”
“There must be universal basic healthcare coverage and provision of health insurance to Nigerians, especially the rural community dwellers.”
“Reducing poverty, improving nutrition and making sure people have access to safe water and sanitation, as well as strengthening national health systems, is of the utmost importance.”
“Otherwise, tackling one particular threat simply leaves people open to another deadly disease soon afterward,’’ Abonyi said.