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Doctors identify effect of recession on health services


Dr. Mike O. Ogirima

Dr. Mike O. Ogirima

Medical doctors under the aegis of the Nigerian Medical Association (NMA) have identified impact of the economic recession currently being faced by the country as it affects health care delivery system even as they proffered solutions and suggestions for possible implementation by government, individuals and corporate organizations.

President NMA, Dr. Mike O. Ogirima, yesterday told The Guardian that some of the challenges faced by Nigerians include: low out of pocket purchases of essential health care needs by citizens of Nigeria; infrastructural decay of health facilities across the country; low budgetary provisions by all tiers of Government for the health sector; slow progress of Universal Health Coverage (UHC) through the National Health Insurance Scheme (NHIS); non implementation of the National Health Act (NHA 2014) since 2014; and challenges associated with Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) resulting from communal clashes, militancy, kidnappers and other criminal elements.

Ogirima also called on the Federal Government (FG) to extend the anticorruption crusade to all other sectors of the economy as it was done in the judiciary arm of the government. “It is our belief that if this is extended to the health sector, the little resources available in the sector would be properly utilized to improve the affordability and accessibility of healthcare services to Nigerians passing through the economic recession,” he said.

The NMA President said the decisions were reached as part of activities to mark the 2016 Physicians’ Week, which is holding between Sunday 23 and Saturday October 29, 2016 at the National Secretariat of the Association, Wuse Zone 4, Abuja.

NMA is the umbrella body of all Physicians and Dental Surgeons duly registered with the Medical and Dental Council of Nigeria and practicing in Nigeria and in the diaspora.

The Physicians’ Week is celebrated annually by NMA with the aim of assessing health care services across Nigeria, implementation of health care intervention measures, carry out Corporate Social Responsibilities (CSR) through medical outreaches and advocacy for the implementation of health policies by the Government.

The theme of this year’s event is ‘Health care delivery in a frail economy: challenges and way forward’. Ogirima said it is the belief of NMA that experts brainstorming through conferences and seminars during the week long activity would shed more light and proffer solutions to the aforementioned challenges affecting the health sector in our frail economy.

He said as part of this year’s Physicians Week, the NMA and her 37 branches and affiliates have agreed to stage a Walk on 26th of October 2016 aimed at demanding for the implementation of the NHA 2014 by the Federal Government. “It is our belief that implementation of the Act will address some of the aforementioned challenges being experienced in this economic recession,” he said.

Ogirima said the NMA and her members are facing ethical challenges arising from the Act since it was signed into law in 2014 and such challenges include: non provision of Certificate of Standards and the non-provision of not less than one per cent of the consolidated revenue for the Basic Health Provision Fund as provided in the Act.

The NMA President commended the effort of the FG ably lead by President Muhammadu Buhari, all the security forces, the Bring Back our Girls Group, the leadership of the Chibok community, the media, the Government of Borno State and Nigerians in general for the long awaited release of some of the kidnapped Chibok girls.

The doctors called on the FG to further strategize and utilize this dependable avenue to secure the release of the remaining Chibok girls and other Nigerians under the captivity of Boko Haram.

The NMA drew the attention of government to the negative impact of the psychological trauma and health challenges facing the released Chibok girls. “We wish to stress here that we are ever ready to partner in providing Voluntary Specialist Health Care Services to all the released Chibok girls through our members across the country,” he said.

Ogirima said the NMA wishes to stress that the conditions in most Internally Displaced Persons (IDP) camps and welfare services provided by Government are suboptimal.

He said in view of Mr. President’s determination to fight corruption, there is a need for the FG to investigate and bring to book all those accused of diversion of relief materials meant for the IDPs.

Ogirima said the Executive of the NMA has constituted a committee on IDPs and called on all State branches of the NMA with IDP challenges to do same and create time as part of their CSR to address health challenges in the camps from time to time.

The doctors also called on the FG to reconstitute the Medical and Dental Council of Nigeria. “This call becomes imperative based on the fact that issues bothering on safety and ethics relating to doctor patient relationship are unattended to. Not only that litigations are left undetermined in the council, it is also surprising that the FG’s directive dissolving of all boards and parastatals spared all non-health related professional regulatory councils but included all health regulatory bodies under the Federal Ministry of Health. This action has made the NMA to doubt the prioritisation of health care programmes by the Federal Government in its policies,” he said.

The NMA commended the bold step taken by the Federal Ministry of Health (FMOH) in resolving the prolonged crises bedeviling Federal Medical Centre (FMC) Owerri even as it called on all the security agencies to be at alert and to act appropriately on any individual or group of persons who are planning to foment crises to deny the good people of Imo State from accessing quality health care services provided by the only Federal Tertiary Health Institution in the State. Ogirima called on the management of FMC Owerri to improve on her relationship with professional associations and unions and ensure equity and fairness in the discharge of their mandates.

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