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Expert seeks expunge of HMOs in health bill to address challenges of doctors

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A medical expert and the Chief Medical Director of Mount Hermon Hospital, Port Harcourt, Dr. Cyril Ekhaeyemhe, has called on the Federal Government and the National Assembly to intervene on issues of doctors’ worsening operational plight in the country.

Ekhaeyemhe pointed out that one of the major challenges facing doctors in executing their constitutional duties is the activity of Health Maintenance Organisations (HMOs).

He described the HMO as a cankerworm that is eating up the health system in the country, adding that when government releases money to assist the poor through the National Health Insurance Scheme (NHIS), the monies never gets to the doctors due to corruption in the HMO.

He therefore called for the expunge of HMO from the Health bill to save the citizens, address the doctors’ plight and as well, save the nation from mass exodus of medical experts.

Ekhaeyemhe stated this in Port Harcourt while narrating the case of a patient, one Mrs. Nwakaego Patrick, who after caesarean operations could not pay up her bills but rather sued the hospital for keeping her at the facility against her wish.

He described the patient as an ingrate and blamed the development to poor management of the HMO, adding that if monies released by government to assist the poor were transparently managed by letting it get to the doctors, situations like this could be averted.

However, when contacted, the lawyer to the patient, Godwin Omereji, expressed surprise over Ekhaeyemhe’s claim, stating that his client paid part of her bills to the hospital and signed a document to clear the bill within a specific time and appealed to the hospital to release her to go and source for funds but the management refused, insisting that the bills must be cleared before she would be let out of the hospital.

Omereji said, “ My client went to court because of clear refusal of the hospital management to release her to go and source for funds to pay up her bills, it is not a case of running away from payment and there is no where in the constitution such detainment is stated”

Speaking further, the CMD of hospital said, “It is very easy to turn the health situation of this country around within three months. The laws are there but it is the application and the enforcement that is missing.”

“The NHIS is a good arrangement by government, however, there is a big milestone between the government’s effort and the doctors effort and that cankerworm is called the HMO”

“Under this system, when government dishes out money to help the poor and assist and in carrying out the work, its trickles out, it never gets to the doctors or achieve the purpose it is meant for”

Ekhaeyemhe disclosed that the HMO practice was imported from United Kingdom and United States of America, which according to him, cannot work in a country like Nigeria due to corruption adding that, “Nigeria has its specifics, such practice cannot work here”.

The medical expert however recommended that government should rather set up an agency made of medical doctors and channel the monies through them, monitor the agency to ensure proper management and transparency.

He affirmed, “When this is done and efficiently managed, people could just go to hospitals, present their identity cards and the doctors attends to them and at the end of the month, you just pay small amount from your salary.

“If this is well applied, within three months you will see results and a lot of doctors who have left the country will return because the environment and system of work has been made easy.”

He added, “it is time to turn attention on the doctors plight in the attempt to save the life of its citizens, if not, there will soon be a severe exodus of doctors that will leave this country, leaving it to less than a few or none at all.”


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