NATIONWIDE HEALTH CARE SERVICES
The health care services in Nigeria have been characterized by short-term planning, as is the case with the planning of most aspects of the Nigerian life. The major national development plans are as follows:
1. The First Colonial Development plan from 1945- 1955 (Decade of Development)
2. The Second Colonial Development plan from 1956- 1962
3. The First National Development Plan from 1962- 1968
4. The Second National Development Plan from 1970- 1975
5. The Third National Development Plan from 1975- 1980
6. The Fourth National Development Plan from 1981- 1985
7. Nigeria's Five year Strategic Plan from 2004 - 2008 All of these plans formulated goals for nationwide health care services.
The overall national policy for Nationwide Health Care Services was clearly stated in a 1954 Eastern Nigeria government report on "Policy for Medical and Health Services." This report stated that the aim was to provide national health services for ALL. The report emphasized that since urban services were well developed (by our standards then), the government intended to expand rural services. These rural services would be in the form of rural hospitals of 20- 24 beds, supervised by a medical officer, who would also supervise dispensaries, maternal and child welfare clinics and preventive work (such as sanitation workers). The policy made local governments contribute to the cost of developing and maintaining such rural services, with grants-in-aid from the regional government. This report was extensive and detailed in its description of the services envisaged. This was the policy before and during Independence. After independence in 1960, the same basic health care policy was pursued. By the time the Third National Development Plan was produced in 1975, more than 20 years after the report mentioned above, not much had been done to achieve the goals of the Nationwide Health Care Services policy. This plan, which was described by General Yakubu Gowon, the then Head of the Military Government, as "A Monument to Progress", stated, "Development trends in the health sector have not been marked by any spectacular achievement during the past decade". This development plan appeared to have focused attention on trying to improve the numerical strength of existing facilities rather than evolving a clear health care policy.