Overdoses can occur to anyone from any background, anywhere in the world, as drug addiction knows no boundaries. International Overdose Awareness Day, observed annually on August 31st, aims to raise awareness of overdose deaths worldwide and inspire people to take action.
In an effort to bring attention to one of the worst public health crises in history, the Nigerian Solidarity Support Fund (NSSF) joins forces with people all around the world. To honour this day, we look at an approach to reduce the number of overdose-related fatalities. While looking into the professional situations that could lead to an overdose, we implore everyone to take the current medical expert deficit in Nigeria's health sector seriously and that the country's medical sector be more receptive to technological improvements.
Shortages in the workforce potentially lead to having overwhelmed workers, which, in this context, could lead to overdose. When workers are overwhelmed, mistakes are inevitable. The medical sector has lost about 8000 professionals and the Nigerian Medical Association fears an imminent collapse of the system and a need to import medical doctors in the near future. With our national health budget being less than 5% of the general annual budget, the culprit for this loss of human capital is not farfetched.
A system where the government contributes around 200 billion naira less to the health system than private individuals does is unsustainable. The conversation could change once the Nigerian government acknowledges healthcare as a worthwhile, scalable investment that could support Nigeria's economic stability. We have observed nations like India slowly grow their economies by establishing themselves as the world's top destination for surgical procedures.
Equipping our healthcare systems with more experienced and qualified employees and ensuring that they receive due appreciation for the value they deliver are both smart places to start. In an effort to decrease the incidence of overdose, we should also take into account how easily accessible our health services are. A person is more likely to refrain from self-medication and overdosing if they have access to telemedicine, for example, live streaming platforms, for medical professionals.
The bulk of this responsibility falls on the shoulders of the Nigerian government, and it is crucial that the government steps up to the challenge because one of the strongest foundations of a country's economy, health, is hanging and wobbly like a toddler just learning to walk.