Nigeria Medical Association Deplores Poor Condition of Health Sector
By Olubunmi Osoteku, Ibadan
The Nigeria Medical Association, NMA, Oyo State branch, has deplored the poor condition of the country’s health sector, calling on government at all levels to urgently declare a state of emergency in the sector.
The association asserted that the call was imperative in view of the looming danger of a total collapse of the sector if something is not done urgently. They pleaded with the government to address the bureaucracy sorrounding the employment of more hands to fill the vacuum created by the migration of medical doctors to countries with better health system.
The Chairman, NMA Oyo Branch, Dr Ayotunde Fasunla, made the call in Ibadan, Oyo State capital, while briefing newsmen on the activities to commemorate the 2022 Scientific Conference themed: “National Health Authority Act- The Soundbites” and sub-theme: “Industrial Harmony in the Health Sector – A Necessity for Health Sector Growth”.
Fasunla stated: “In the most circumstances, we have treated and will continue to treat, those who are ill in our nation. We strive to satisfy the society health needs and expectations despite the fact that we work in an unfriendly, hostile and demanding environment, with poor healthcare professionals.”
He said it is disturbing that thousands of doctors have become so disenchanted with the Nigeria healthcare system that they are actively migrating to more developed countries with better health system and economy, affirming the looming danger of a total collapse of the country’s healthcare system if the situation is not urgently nipped in the bud.
The NMA Chairman noted: “It calls for a sober reflection as it underscores the need for a declaration of a state of emergency in the Nigerian health sector. This is not a proposal to stop doctors from emigrating, but a call to the government and well-meaning Nigerians to define the magnitude of the problem within the health system, explore the root causes and articulate solutions in the immediate, short and long term.”
Fasunla explained that the poor state of government-owned hospitals in the country is largely due to poor financing. He noted that the allocation to health in the 2022 budget is approximately 4.2 percent of the national budget, a figure he said falls significantly below the recommendation of the African Union at the Abuja declaration of a minimum of 15 percent.
He disclosed that the situation is worse at the state level as the infrastructure deficit is such that some hospitals spend a significant amount of their internally generated revenue on diesel to ensure power supply, saying there is scarcity of fund to apply for equipment upgrade, manpower development or even recruitment of new staff, as many of the hospitals are grossly short-staffed.
Fasunla stated: “Even the process of replacing migrating staff is bogged down by a rigid and insensitive government bureaucracy. It is our plea to the government to commit more funds to the health sector so that the system does not collapse. Only healthy people can have the will and strength to contribute to the growth and development of a nation’s economy.”
He, therefore, called on well-meaning Nigerians, philanthropists and non-governmental organisations to join hands with the government to improve the conditions of the health system in the country.