COMMUNIQUE ISSUED AT THE END OF THE 39TH ANNUAL GENERAL MEETING AND SCIENTIFIC CONFERENCE OF THE ASSOCIATION OF PUBLIC HEALTH PHYSICIANS OF NIGERIA (APHPN) HELD FROM 30TH JANUARY TO 3RD FEBRUARY 2023 AT L.A. KINGS DOME, PORT HARCOURT, RIVERS STATE
The Association of Public Health Physicians of Nigeria (APHPN) is a professional association that brings together public health physicians from all over Nigeria and aims to promote the practice, training, and research in public health and community medicine in the country. The 39th Annual General Meeting and Scientific Conference of APHPN held from the 30th January to 3rd February 2023 at the L.A. Kings Dome Event Centre, Port Harcourt, with the theme: Public Health Practice: New Opportunities and New Challenges. The conference provided a forum for sharing innovative ideas and adapting scientific knowledge to overcome health challenges in the country while exploring the benefits and new opportunities to promote health, reduce disease burden and alleviate poverty using technology and new thinking so as to help accelerate health development in Nigeria.
The Annual Isaac Ladipo Oluwole Memorial Lecture was delivered by Dr. Akinwumi Fajola, the Regional Manager (Community Health) of the Shell Petroleum Development Company (SPDC). The lecture took the audience on a journey through the public health interventions seen through the years, highlighting the gains of public health practice, and the challenges and opportunities in Nigeria.
After several scientific paper presentations, plenaries and strategic sessions on the theme and thematic areas, the following observations and recommendations were made:
- The Nigerian health system in its current state aptly reflects "Health Care in Danger" requiring urgent but pragmatic application of innovative solutions to cure.
- The meeting noted with great concern the increasing spate of violence against health care workers, facilities and vehicles all over the country, with the corresponding immediate and long-term effects.
- APHPN recognises and commends the effort of the National Health Insurance Authority (NHIA) to reset the Health Insurance ecosystem in Nigeria for the attainment of universal health coverage and in particular the achievements recorded in the last three years. This effort should be sustained to achieve 100% coverage by 2030.
- The Conference observed the increasing levels of unintended pregnancies and abortions in Nigeria and other countries.
- APHPN in a bid to ensure a strategic direction and long-term impact on the Nigerian health system has set up and registered APHPN Consultancy Services Limited (ACSL) and has embarked on national research on topical health issues. This initiative will significantly contribute to the evidence base for health policy action in Nigeria.
- Evidence from a nationwide survey in Nigeria revealed that majority of civil servants who are yet to be vaccinated against COVID-19 remain unwilling to be vaccinated.
- All hands must be on deck to stem the tide of violence against healthcare and health insecurity in Nigeria, through continuous education and stakeholder engagements.
- There is need for collaboration between the NHIA, National Primary Health Care Development Agency (NPHCDA), other Ministries, Departments & Agencies (MDAs) and other stakeholders to synergise efforts for maximum benefit rather than working in silos. APHPN will work with these agencies to respond to disease outbreaks, Public Health (Emergencies of International Concern (PHEICs) and promote sustainable and quality healthcare delivery in Nigeria.
- Digital innovations and the application of digital technology in public health practice offers a fresh and promising outlook for the improvement of health care delivery, sustainable public health programme implementation and quality research in Nigeria. Therefore, digital innovations should be deployed as an effective tool to halt the brain drain syndrome. APHPN is poised to embrace innovative technologies in research, healthcare delivery and promotion of public health in Nigeria.
- The role of Medical Officers of Health (MOH) is critical to the delivery of healthcare in Nigeria. A Medical Officer of Health is a medical doctor with postgraduate training in Public Health. APHPN calls on all States in Nigeria to as a matter of priority, ensure that every Local Government Council has a Medical Officer of Health in line with the public health laws and global best practices.
- There is a need for the review of the Nigerian abortion laws in line with global best practices and realities.
- APHPN reiterate its call for the establishment of the Department of Public Health in all secondary and tertiary healthcare facilities in Nigeria. This will provide a medium to further harness the resourcefulness of public health physicians and other public health specialists in strengthening the overall responsiveness to health and related emergencies in the country.
- Government and other stakeholders should adopt a comprehensive and all-encompassing sensitization and awareness campaign using all government and community structures to improve willingness for vaccination against COVID-1 9 and adoption of other protective measures against the disease.
- APHPN supports the efforts of the Government to conduct free, fair and credible forthcoming general elections. Nigerian citizens are encourage to shun electoral violence, vote buying, and vote for credible candidates their choice without coercion.
Prof. Alphonsus Isara
Dr. Alphonsus Aigbiremolen
Secretary – General