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Health care delivery System and the Rural Areas Printable Version PRINTABLE VERSION
by Henry Ekwuruke, Nigeria Jul 20, 2005
Health   Opinions
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Health care services are amongst the most basic of all essential services, and their significance cannot be over emphasized. However, the general health of a member of any society can be seen as part of an interrelated set of conditions, which have to do with man's capacity to adjust to his immediate environment and to utilize it to his optimum advantage. Like wise, health may be considered as the state of complete physical, mental and social well being of an individual, and not merely the absence of diseases or infirmity.

Globally, health services are known to be provided at different levels by different agencies and specialists. In Nigeria for example, health services are taken care of by the three tiers of government, namely: The Federal, State and Local governments. These are also supported by organizations and the private individuals who establish and run private medical services. Traditional medical practitioners who serve the majority of the rural populace also belong to this privatized category.

However, it has come to the intimation of most researchers that the rural areas have several problems. According to a researcher, Eyeni (1987), the critical set back to development in most developing countries of the world is the lack of proper and adequate attention to the difficulties faced by the rural regions. It is however, interesting to know that issues of rural development are being backed by philanthropists, individual researchers and the government at various levels in Nigeria. The first attempt at planning ahead for the development of health services in the country took place between 1946 and 1956 and covered all aspects of governmental activities in the states. Thus, the trend of development was reversed, as to paying attention to regional development with the aim of enhancing the quality of life of the populace.

In view of this, many plans were made for the construction of rural health care centers, dispensaries and the extension as well as modernization of the existing hospitals, especially in the bid to narrow the disparity in the standard of living between urban and rural dwellers/residents, as well as to increase rural productivity.

Thus, at the end of the plan, period assessment of the health sector revealed that not much had been achieved. The problems still remain very much unsolved, and the need for the rural populace to acquire health care services still lingers on. More importantly, the major noticeable problems associated with the provision of health care services to the rural areas include the following:

1. Problem of insufficient health centers

2. Problem of accessibility to the available health care centers, due to the spatial inefficiency of their distribution.

3. Inefficiency of the available health care facilities.

4. Insufficiency of trained medical personnel/physicians to the ratio of the existing population of a particular area.
Furthermore, it is obvious that the rural populace seem to be the major producers of agricultural products, which is the nation's means of livelihood. Since illness is known to impair the productive capacity of the people in any part of the world, this could in turn affect a country's generation of income. About 80% of the world's population dwells in the rural areas; this however, makes the provision of responsive and high quality medical care in many of these rural areas difficult, due to the dispersion of the population and lack of financial entitlements to services among poor segments of the population, which in other words, will not attract the physicians.

The rural populace is also believed to be poorly educated; they are the low income earners. They, according to Erickson (1970), actually have more illnesses, and getting proper care is difficult because most physicians are less willing to locate their offices where they will have many poor patients. The physicians wish to practice in relation to their own class; thus, leading to lopsided distribution of resources in our society, which affects equal accessibility.

In order to curb the various problems facing the rural regions, in regards to health services, the government should be fully involved, as well as entire communities in question, which should be encouraged to partake in this scheme:

1. The government should try to assist the rural areas in providing health care delivery systems that can be done or carried out through Primary Health Care Services (P.H.C), where by the rural dwellers will have easy access to health services at a cheaper rate, while considering the efficient and effectiveness of the health service rendered.

2. Furthermore, the government should organize a forum; whereby, the medical practitioners among the vicinity will give back in terms of visiting the rural areas of the state and diagnosing some of their ailments.

3. Thirdly, the government should as well try to bridge the gap in the distribution of health facilities between rural and urban areas. They should also help in funding and providing inventors for various health care centers; enlightening the rural populace on the use of orthodox medicine.

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Henry Ekwuruke

Henry Ekwuruke is Executive Director of the Development Generation Africa International.
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