As President Bola Ahmed Tinubu assumed office as the 16th President of Nigeria, stakeholders have tasked him to prioritise fulfilling the 2001 Abuja declaration, improve health workers’ remuneration, and infrastructural development in the health sector.
The stakeholders, in their congratulatory messages, urged the President to provide comprehensive healthcare for Nigerians.
The Nigerian Medical Association, in its message, signed by its President, Dr Uche Ojinmah, and Secretary-General, Dr Jide Onyekwelu, urged the Federal Government to appropriate health sector financing with the Abuja 2001 declaration of at least 15 per cent of the annual national budget as a target.
This, it said, will abate medical tourism and the attendant loss of financial resources.
In April 2001, heads of state of African Union countries met and pledged to set a target of allocating at least 15 per cent of their annual budget to improve the health sector. However, Nigeria is yet to meet the target 23 years after.
The association also calls for improved health workforce remuneration as a means of improving the availability of scarce workforce and mitigating brain drain.
“The Federal Government should implement the provisions of the National Health Act 2014 in full to set our health sector on sound footing.
“The Federal Government should ensure that the Basic Healthcare Provision Fund having been rolled out by the preceding administration gets improved appropriation, prompt releases, and institute appropriate measures for accountability and measurable outcomes.
“We believe that every Nigerian life matters, therefore there is a need to have a functional and effective social welfare scheme focusing on providing a safety net (housing, food, basic education) and Universal Health Coverage for all Nigerians, especially the disadvantaged or vulnerable groups including pregnant women, children under five years of age, the aged, the extremely poor (persons living on less than $1.90 daily and the disabled.
“Government at all levels should address social issues affecting health (social determinants of health: these include poverty alleviation, women empowerment and education (particularly girl child education), water and sanitation, infrastructural development, tackling insecurity, employment and elimination of corruption.
“NMA calls for an audit of existing primary health centres and getting them equipped and well-managed. Nigeria under your leadership should work towards a Doctor-led Primary Health Care because every country with an effective PHC which is the entry point to the performing and cost-effective health system (the gate-keeping point) has achieved a doctor-led PHC,” it added.
The President of the Nigerian Dental Association, Tope Adeyemi, called for the implementation of the National Oral Health Policy in Nigeria.
Adeyemi said, “We, at the NDA are assured of a renewed hope, and we hope that there will be implementation of the National Oral Health Policy in Nigeria.
“While we heartily congratulate you, please be rest assured that the Nigerian Dental Association looks forward to working with you in improving all sectors, especially the oral health sector to guarantee better and healthier oral health for Nigerians.”
Also, the National Vice-Chairman of the Joint Health Sector Unions, Dr. Obinna Ogbonna, tasked Tinubu on structural and infrastructural development in the health sector.
Dr Ogbonna urged him to revamp the Ministry of Health, adding that the Minister of Health should not be a physician or a healthcare professional.
JOHESU is the umbrella body of health workers’ unions and associations, including the Medical and Health Workers Union of Nigeria, the Nigeria Union of Allied Health Professionals, the Non-Academic Staff Union of Educational and Associated Institutions, the Senior Staff Association of Universities Teaching Hospitals, Research Institutes, and Associated Institutions, and the Assembly of Healthcare Professionals.
Ogbonna said, “The Bola Tinubu government should look at the structural and infrastructural decay in the health sector. The decay in the health sector should be a thing of interest to the government.
“There should be an overhaul of the health ministry. The minister should not be a physician or a healthcare professional, the minister should be a seasoned administrator. The clinicians should concentrate on taking care of the patients because we are not even enough, so the clinicians should focus on taking care of the patients.”