NGO wants FG to establish brain, spinal cord injury trust fund

The Brain and Spine Foundation, Africa, has urged the federal government to establish a brain and spinal cord injury trust fund to alleviate the financial burden of the expensive treatments on Nigerians.

The Founder and Executive Director of the Foundation, Ms. Chika Okwuolisa, made the call during a press conference with the theme ”The State of Neurological Emergencies and Healthcare in Nigeria”.

Neurological emergencies involve abrupt and severe disruptions in the normal operation of the nervous system, comprising the brain, spinal cord, and peripheral nerves.

These emergencies can arise from various conditions, including traumatic injuries, strokes, seizures, infections, and other disorders affecting the nervous system.

Ms Chika Okwuolisa said the call became necessary because neurological emergencies are life-threatening conditions that depend on timely interventions to achieve the best outcomes for patients.

She noted that 70% of those in need of attention for brain and spine issues are unable to access treatment due to lack of information, high cost of the treatment, and shortage of professionals, as well as inability of most healthcare institutions to provide the necessary neurological services.

She therefore appealed to governments at all levels and well-meaning Nigerians to fund neurological advocacy.

Ms Okwuolisa also advocated

  • Development of pre-hospital care centres, including a coordinated call centre to facilitate timely care for acute and emergency neuro-patients, as well as other individuals experiencing emergencies such as a heart attack.
  • ‘’Continuous multi-disciplinary training and capacity building for healthcare staff in both A&E and ICU
  • ‘’Collaboration with non-profit organizations like the Brain and Spine Foundation Africa is essential for raising awareness and providing support.
  • ‘’Establish favourable and conducive working conditions for healthcare professionals, aiming to promote brain gain while discouraging brain drain.

Dr. Charles Ugwuanyi, the FCT Chairman of the Nigerian Medical Association, urged the government to prioritize healthcare delivery, especially at the grassroots.

Dr. Ugwuanyi highlighted the critical nature of brain injuries, citing the case where the 14 district hospitals in Abuja rely on the National Hospital for CT scan services, thereby placing more burden on the facility and waiting time for patients.

This situation, he said, places additional burden on the facility and results in extended waiting times for patients.

A Consultant Neurosurgeon and Health Sector Reform Advocate, Dr. Douglas Okor identified poverty and illiteracy as obstacles preventing patients from receiving the right treatment.

He also urged the government to ‘think right, act right and spend right’ for the good of the citizens.

The Representative of Decade for Action on Road Safety, Dr. Yusuf Suberu, explained that most brain injuries occur during accidents, primarily caused by human factors like poor road conditions and over speeding.

Dr. Suberu urged people to obey road traffic regulations and pledged the commitment of United Nations to reducing road accidents by 50% by 2030.

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