Healthcare: Stakeholders Task President Tinubu To Improve Workforce Remuneration

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President Bola Ahmed Tinubu was sworn in as the 16th President of Nigeria at the Eagles Square in Abuja, before dignitaries from within Nigeria and outside, and diplomats.

He assumed office at a time of unprecedented health crises, alongside funding gaps, infrastructure deficits, and major setbacks in reducing hunger, disease, and maternal and child mortality.

President Tinubu gave indications on what his administration will prioritise in terms of healthcare agenda – appropriate utilisation of funds meant for the health sector, setting a fully functional healthcare system, reversal of brain drain, upward review of the budgetary allocation to health, universal health coverage, and a functional healthcare delivery system

With his agenda, Tinubu is promising a comprehensive and affordable healthcare approach to healthcare.

Reiterating his commitment to investing in the health sector, the President during his inaugural speech said, “We commend the decision of the outgoing administration in phasing out the petrol subsidy regime which has increasingly favored the rich more than the poor. The subsidy can no longer justify its ever-increasing costs in the wake of drying resources. We shall instead re-channel the funds into better investment in public infrastructure, education, health care, and jobs that will materially improve the lives of millions.”

However, stakeholders say his proposed plans must go beyond words on paper.

According to them, there is a need for concerted efforts and political will to improve the health sector.

The Nigerian Medical Association, especially, urged Tinubu to allocate at least 15 percent of the annual national budget to the health sector.

The NMA, in its congratulatory message, signed by its President, Dr. Uche Ojinmah, and the Secretary-General, Dr. Jide Onyekwelu, on Tuesday also called for improved health workforce remuneration.

“We humbly call for appropriate Health Sector financing with the Abuja 2001 Declaration of at least 15 percent of the annual national budget as a target. This, we believe will abate medical tourism and the attendant loss of financial resources; 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 FG 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, and the disabled,” NMA stated.

The association also urged the government at all levels to address social issues affecting health and call for an audit of existing primary healthcare centres and equipping them.

Also, the Medical and Dental Consultants of Nigeria, urged Tinubu to tackle the challenges bedevilling the health sector in the country.

According to the association in a press statement jointly signed by its President, Dr. Victor Makanjuola, and Secretary, Dr. Yemi Raji, “As the body of Medical and Dental Specialists in Nigeria, we call His Excellency’s attention to the needed reforms in the country’s health care delivery system. The system currently faces challenges of big funding gaps, infrastructure deficits, and a demoralised workforce. The poor motivation of healthcare workers has resulted in the ongoing emigration of our scarce healthcare workforce to more developed countries.

“Urgent attention from your new administration will be required for any meaningful hope of redemption. Committed operationalisation of the existing health-related laws such as the National Health Act 2014 and the recently enacted National Health Insurance Authority Act 2022, has the potential to significantly close the existing funding gaps needed for expanding access to care by the majority of Nigerians pursuant to the attainment of lofty goals of Universal Health Coverage.”

The President of the Nigerian Association of Resident Doctors, Dr. Emeka Orji urged the newly-elected President to work with the healthcare unions to solve the challenges in the sector.

There is no need to play politics with healthcare. So, they should see us as partners and let us work together. We know the challenges in the sector and we can suggest how to overcome them.

“The budgetary allocation in the health sector is too low to improve the quality of life of Nigerians. The government must increase the budgetary allocation to health to improve the health indices in the country.”

On his part, 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 look forward to working with you in improving all sectors, especially the oral health sector to guarantee better and healthier oral health for Nigerians.”



Punch/Oyenike Oyeniyi