NMA NEC decries increasing health risks in Nigeria

Gloria Essien, Abuja

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The National Executive Committee of the Nigeria Medical Association, says   health threats are increasing in every part of Nigeria and that poor Healthcare infrastructure, insufficient and obsolete equipment, human resource shortage, poor remuneration of Health workers, medical brain drain, inadequate funding of the health sector, abuse of referral system, inter professional rivalry and insecurity, were the major threats to effective healthcare delivery in our country.

The NEC also observed with concern that the worsening insecurity in the country, has led to the inability of both patients and health workers to reach health facilities in some parts of the country.

The observations were made in a communique issued at the end of the meeting in Gombe State. It further noted with dismay, the failure of both Federal and State Governments to effectively check security lapses and the ravaging incidence of kidnappings in Nigeria.

“The health workers have been targeted in some communities with some of them kidnapped during the discharge of their duties and few of them killed by gunmen. The NEC called on Government at all levels and the security agencies to urgently do the needful in addressing this menace and warned that, the already precarious health indices may worsen if left unchecked.”

Finally, the NEC reiterated that Section 14(2) (b) of the 1999 constitution (as amended) states that, “The security and welfare of the people shall be the primary purpose of government and the participation by the people in their government shall be ensured in accordance with the provisions of this constitution.”

NEC also observed that one of the most serious obstacles to the development of effective health services in Nigeria is inadequate supply of skilled human resource.

“This has led to serious manpower crises in most health facilities in the country with the health workers already being overstretched leading to serious distortion in the already poor doctor-patient ratio of 1:5,000 in Nigeria as against the WHO recommendation of 1:600. The shortage of doctors in the country is currently driving the epidemic of Physician burnout in the country. NEC also noted the pervasive negative effect of physician burnout on all aspects of medical care, including lower patient satisfaction and care quality, physician suicide and higher medical error rates.”

NMA noted the fact that Nigeria has demonstrated capacity in effectively controlling emerging and re-emerging diseases such as HIV/AIDS, Ebola, Yellow fever and COVID-19 in the past, through the institution of public health control measures and surveillance.

“It also took cognizance of the fact that rapid population growth and the resulting encroachment into wilderness by humans, globalization, extensive resistance to drugs by microorganisms and climate change, are the key factors responsible for the emerging and re-emerging outbreaks. 

The meeting observed the slow progress made towards the implementation of the new hazard allowance and the attempt to exclude doctors in Ministries.

“NEC reviewed the level of progress in clearing the backlog of salary arrears of doctors and other health workers in Abia, Ekiti, Ondo and Imo states. NEC expressed its disappointment with the failure of Abia state Government to pay salaries and other allowances of doctors and other health workers for up to 24 months. NEC considered the above action by Abia State Government as unfair, irritable and highly provocative to the tenets of civil service and natural justice. NEC appreciated the level of progress made in Ekiti, Ondo and Imo States in clearing the unpaid salaries and wages of doctors and other Health workers.”

 

Resolutions

NEC called on all strata of Government to protect all lives and property in Nigeria. NEC also commended the security agencies for their sacrifice and urged them to do more.

NEC admonished members of the medical profession to watch out for the three cardinal symptoms of burnout which are exhaustion, depersonalization and lack of efficacy. NEC also expressed its disappointment with the failure of our Governments to address the “Push” factors propelling brain drain which has led to the mass exodus of doctors and other health worker for greener pastures. NEC reiterated that unless drastic measures were deployed by Governments to stem the tide of brain drain, the already bad National health indices may eventually spiral out of control thereby leaving Nigeria at the bottom rung among the comity of nations.

While appreciating the efforts of government at all levels and healthcare workers for the spirited fight against Monkey Pox and other re-emerging diseases. NEC urged the government to institute more rigorous and continuous surveillance  systems, strict international health travel measures, improve international co-operation and data sharing, rebuild public health infrastructure to prevent and control vector-borne and zoonotic diseases, institute multidisciplinary collaboration using “One Health” approach for prompt diagnosis and treatment, conduct primary as well as translational research in management of infectious diseases, conduct regular training and re-training of health personnel and strengthen evidence based timely informed decision-making in order to detect, treat, contain and control infectious diseases.

NEC charged NMA Abia state Branch to ensure that the rights and privileges of all doctors in Abia state, especially those working with Abia state Government are not trampled upon by deploying all legitimate means at their disposal. NEC resolved that NMA Abia state shall serve the Government of Abia state three weeks ultimatum and if at the end of the three weeks the outstanding issues are not resolved, NMA Abia state should embark on an indefinite strike that must involve all doctors in Federal, State and Private Hospitals.

NEC called on the Governments of Ekiti, Ondo and Imo States to hasten the process of clearing the unpaid salaries and wages of doctors and other Health workers.

NEC further resolved to continue the engagement using every lawful means to ensure the payment of the newly approved hazard allowance within next two months. NEC also insisted on universal applicability in the implementation of the new hazard allowance for all doctors working in Federal, State and Local Government establishments. NEC also commended the Government of Delta state for being the first to start paying the new Hazard Allowance.

NEC directed the NOC to engage the National Assembly and the Federal Ministry of Health (FMOH) on the need to make amendment to the title of the Bill on Complementary, Alternative and traditional Medicine Board to reflect only African Traditional Medicine matters.

NEC resolved to name her routine Medical Outreach after the unsung Heroine, Dr. Stella Adadevoh. The NMA Medical Outreach Program shall henceforth be known as “Dr. Stella Adadevoh Memorial Medical Outreach” – Powered by The Nigerian Medical Association. NEC also directed the National Officers Committee to recommend Dr. Stella Adadevoh to Honours and Awards Committee of NMA for a befitting Post-Humous Award.

NEC urged all members of the NMA to be part of the installation ceremony of Dr. Osahon Enabulele as President of World Medical Association (WMA) in Berlin, Germany and also called on Federal and State Governments to support this event by sending high powered delegations and also extending support to the Nigerian Medical Association to be able to sponsor many of her members to attend this epoch-making event.

Finally, NEC charges the in-coming President of the World Medical Association to be a good Ambassador of the Nigerian Medical Association and Nigeria.

The theme of the conference was, Healthcare Delivery in the Face of Insecurity. The sub-themes were, Health Manpower Planning: the Challenges of Physician Burnout and Brain drain in Nigeria and Re-emerging Health Issues: Monkey Pox Disease and Marburg Virus Disease.

 

 

 

 

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