Nigerian Medical Association, NMA, has called on the Federal Government to put its acts together and address the twin problem of incessant industrial actions and brain drains in the health sector.
President, NMA, Prof Innocent Ujah gave the advice while addressing newsmen as part of activities to commemorate the 2021 Physicians’ Week in Uyo, Akwa Ibom State.
The President who was flanked by his executive expressed concerns over the ‘hostile’ working environment coupled with poor remuneration, which he stressed were responsible for the incessant strikes and mobility of labour.
He urged the Federal Government to put in place proactive measures to stem the ugly trends as according to him, Nigerian doctors should be reckoned with as they have the expertise to excel and do the nation proud.
He said: “The doctors are leaving the country because the working environment is hostile and the remuneration is poor.
“Incentivization of health care workers will motivate them to work harder and give their best as ‘health, it is said is wealth but we add that health is better than wealth.
“These demands are negligible. Doctors are not trained to go on strike. We are trained to save lives. We don’t want to go on strikes anymore. So, we believe that proactive government intervention will prevent a strike.
“We wish to appeal to the various agencies of government to ensure that urgent attention and appropriate response be given to the full and complete implementation of the Memorandum of Understanding, MoU, signed by NMA.
“We urge all state governments owing doctors in their employment salaries and allowances to pay them, so as to prevent further frustration within the workforce, as this is highly demotivating and clearly unacceptable.”
He decried that the Covid-19 pandemic has wrecked “monumental losses” in the health sector, as some members died in the line of duty, saving the lives of Nigerians who were affected by the deadly disease.
Prof Ujah also bemoaned that the pandemic has “greatly exposed the nation’s poor health sector with observable dilapidating health facilities and poor remuneration of healthcare workers.”
He, however, called for a sweeping reform in the health sector, especially in the areas of financing, effective implementation of the National Health Insurance Scheme, NHIS, enacting a law making the scheme compulsory for all adult Nigerians and also exploring alternative healthcare financing initiatives such as the proposed Health Infrastructure Bank by the association.
Ujah called for security to be beefed up across the country to protect lives and property even as he condemned the abduction and killing of doctors and other health workers by bandits, urging the government to ensure the release of victims in captivity.