The Place of History in Health Care Service Delivery: How Useful to Nigeria’s Health Care System

Labbo Abdullahi


Listen to your patient. He is telling you the diagnosis (Sir William Osler, 1848-1919) emphasizes the importance of taking good history in clinical service delivery.


History is a collection of records of the past happenings and experiences. Historians ask when, where and what happened in the past and historical records answer such questions satisfactorily. A number of epidemic and endemic diseases as well as illnesses and treatments occurred in the past upon which records are kept in various medical institutions and centres for historical researches. Health care practitioners ask such questions as when, where and how a disease or illness started and what type of treatments have been given over time. Historical records and oral interactions with patients answer such questions and throw light for further health care services. History also, reviews key issues in health care developments, provide insights into the challenges confronting health care delivery, bring out past mistakes including medical errors and make a compelling case for change. This article adopted qualitative approach and analyzed the extent to which history plays vital roles in health care service delivery. It is discovered that historical records are essential assets in ensuring that health care institutions and services are run effectively and efficiently. The records support not only clinical decision-making, but also health care policy-making in general and provide the reasons for the failures and successes of the past policies and services. Finally, the article shows how useful can the use of history be, in Nigeria’s health care system.

Keywords: History, Disease, Illness and Health care Service Delivery. 

DOI: 10.7176/HRL/51-01

Publication date: February 29th 2020

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