Globalization and Health Care: Case Study Nigeria
By Amalia Safran ’13
Dr. Nwamoh came to Lehigh from Nigeria, with her husband and three children by her side, she shared her knowledge about globalization and health care in a part of Sub Sahara Africa. As an esteemed doctor and figure in the public health sect of Nigeria, her insights on the topic were in depth and well received by many Global Studies students, Health, Medicine and Society students, students from the African Caribbean Culture Club (ACCC), and faculty.
“We all know the world is a global village,” Nwamoh said, and globalization has helped with sharing ideas and technology across boarders. In terms of medicine, globalization has played a strong role in the development of health care in Nigeria.
Nigeria, with a population of 150 million people, spends 4.6 percent of their GDP expenditures on health care, and more than 55 percent of health care funding comes from foreign donors.
“Globalization has resulted in increased access and availability of health care services,” Nwamoh said. But, with globalization, there are some negative impacts on Nigeria’s health care too.
One of the main negative impacts Nwamoh discussed was the increase of the in flow of fake drugs. Because of weak regulation and supply laws, there has been an increase of counterfeit drugs to the point that 70 percent of drugs in circulation are fake.
On the other hand, with globalization there has been a positive change in tuberculosis eradication, HIV services, anti-malaria drugs and other quality drugs that are necessary. “This has impacted positively on the country’s morbidity and mortality indices,” Nwamoh said.
Kelsey Kaplan, ’14, a student who was in attendance for one of her Health, Medicine, Society classes, thought it was interesting how in the U.S. we often see globalization portrayed negatively, but in Dr. Nwamoh’s presentation she learned the positive effects it has on globalization in Nigeria. “Hearing it from someone who actually lives there was really interesting and made me rethink globalization’s effects on the world,” she said.
Nwamoh also talked about the key organizations in global health: World Health Organization (WHO), the World Bank (WB), and the World Trade Organization (WTO). She said, “They develop guidelines and set standards of practice for most health issues.”
But, there also needs to be a balance. Nwamoh said, “Government should play a role and the outside organizations should play a role.” Nigerians are benefiting from non-government organizations (NGOs), but the government should also be helping out with funding.
Cheryn Amo-Adjel, ’13, who is a member of ACCC, agreed with Nwamoh’s idea of balance. She explained that some parts of Westernization are bad because it can detract from the nation’s culture. On the other hand, in terms of medicine, globalization is a good thing and “globalization closes that bridge medically between countries.”
With globalization, doctors are able to train anywhere because of the standardized curriculums. This has proven to benefit global health and the growth of widespread knowledge. Evidence-Bases Medicine (EBM) is one of the most successful tools for Nigeria’s health system. It has made it possible for doctors to access relevant information and research, which is important for improving health care in the nation.
Prompted by a question in the audience about polio in Nigeria, Nwamoh and her husband, who helped to explain the cultural dynamics in Nigeria, spoke about how culture plays a role in health care. In the north, which is primarily Muslim, polio is more prevalent because of the belief systems they follow. Some do not believe the polio vaccine is beneficial, while the southern part of the country, which is Christian, is accepting of the polio vaccine. Nwamoh said, “We’re still making improvements and trying to eradicate it [polio].”
Nwamoh’s extensive work in Nigeria’s health care system shed light on the effects of globalization from a new perspective. According to Nwamoh, globalization has brought improvements, especially in technology and communication, which health care has only benefited from. Developed and developing countries have a more equal opportunity to access health research, which has helped Nigeria’s health care system.