NUAHP Kicks Against Proposed Privatization of Tertiary Public Health Institutions

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The Nigerian Union of Allied Health Professionals (NUAHP) has condemned the recent statement credited to the President of the Nigeria Medical Association (NMA), Dr Ojinmah Uche urging the Federal Government of Nigeria to privatise all tertiary healthcare centres in the country.

The Union called on President Bola Ahmed Tinubu to discountenance such unpatriotic calls for privatisation of the tertiary healthcare centres.

NUAHP said it will, in alliance with other health workers Unions and the organised labour in general under the coordination of Trade Union Congress of Nigeria (TUC), Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) and their pro-labour Civil Society allies, resist in totality any attempt to privatise public health institutions in Nigeria.

Addressing a press conference in Abuja on Tuesday, the National President of NUAHP, Pharm. Ibrahim Kamal call for privatization of health institutions as unfortunate and insensitive.

Kamal said the call for privatisation of these public health institutions by the NMA as a panacea to brain drain in the health has further demonstrated that the association is not interested in the common good and well-being of the Nigerian citizens.

“Privatisation of public health institutions in whatever guise is not the solution to any problem in the health sector but more hardship to common citizens of Nigeria; who by fundamental right as enshrined in the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria 1999 (as amended) should have unhindered access to healthcare as a social service. The Right to Health is guaranteed under the African Charter on Human and Peoples Rights. Nationally, it is guaranteed under Chapter 2 of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria 1999 (as amended).

“The right to health was first articulated in the World Health Organisation (WHO) 1946 Constitution which states that: ‘the enjoyment of the highest attainable standard of health is one of the fundamental rights of every human being…’. 

“Even in a capitalist Country like the United Kingdom, a public sector funded universal health coverage programme called the National Health Service (NHS) had been institutionalised for close to a century now, precisely since 1948 with over one million workforce and with a budget of £190.3b in 2022. This social care programme has remained sacred like a religion to the citizens of the United Kingdom and the Government of that Country has continued to widen the workforce by recruiting health professionals from other countries of which significant members of the Nigeria Medical Association are beneficiaries to the detriment of the Nigeria’s Health System,” he said.

NUAHP rejected the NMA’s President assertion that, “private health sector driven healthcare system with government support and enabling environment will over time stop brain drain and may even initiate brain gain in Nigeria”.

The Union added that the NMA President’s suggestion that, “51 % of shares be sold to core investors who become majority shareholders and in thus responsible for day to day running of the institutions, fixing of salary, hiring and firing and make sure it turn in profits after tax” revealed the self-serving nature of an average medical doctor who place more priority on their private health centres than the primary hospitals they were employed to provide healthcare services to the citizens.

NUAHP explained that over the years, it has, in conjunction with other health workers Unions. attributed the major challenges of the public healthcare institutions in Nigeria to inadequate funding and budgetary allocation by government, bad leadership and poor management of public health institutions by physicians/medical doctors led management team, noncompliance to the circulars and operational guidelines by Chief Executive Officers of public health institutions, lack of transparency and prudent management of available resources, under-utilisation of other healthcare professionals, infrastructural deficits, out of stock of drugs and consumables due poor financial management of funds and non-adherence to Drug Revolving Funds (DRF) Scheme, discriminatory management practices and unfair treatment of other health professionals in public health institutions.

NUAHP said above factors are necessary conditions to ensure effectiveness of the healthcare system in Nigeria and provision of universal health coverage in line with the Goal 3 of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

The Union insisted that privatisation of such social service institutions and its attendant consequences like job loss, wage loss and making healthcare out of the reach of ordinary citizens will further worsen the living conditions of the citizens of this country.

NUAHP urged President Tinubu to declare State of Emergency in the health sector to address brain drain and other prevailing challenges as well as increase budgetary allocation to the health sector

The Union also called on the President to appoint seasoned administrators to manage public health institutions and make appointment open to other qualified health professionals, adding that technocrats be appointed as Minister of Health, and not medical doctors.

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