AS Nigeria increasingly searches for ways to have a stable health care system, health workers under the aegis of the Nigerian Union of Allied Health Professionals (NUAHP) have called for a complete transformation of the system and re-organisation of the Federal Ministry of Health to take care of gaps that currently exist in the nation’s healthcare system.
In a statement made available to The Guardian, members of the union said the Nigerian healthcare system, as it currently stands, does not favour health professionals, except medical doctors and dentists under the aegis of the Nigerian Medical Association (NMA).
In the statement signed by NUAHP National President, Mr. Felix Faniran and Secretary-General, Mr. Ogbonna, in reaction to media criticism of the protest embarked upon by Joint Health Sector Unions (JOHESU) in Abuja recently, the group reiterated the need for the removal of the current ministers of health and replacement with ministers from both NMA and JOHESU.
JOHESU is a coalition of five registered trade unions in the health sector, which include NUAHP/Nigerian Union of Pharmacists, Medical Technologists and Professionals Allied to Medicine (NUPMTPAM), Senior Staff Association of Universities, Teaching Hospitals, Research Institutes and Associated Institutions (SSAUTHRIAI) and National Association of Nigeria Nurses and Midwives (NANNM).
Other members of the union include Medical and Health Workers Union of Nigeria (MHWUN) and Non-Academic Staff Union (NASU).
NUAHP said it was miffed by the description of JOHESU’s protest by NMA as “politically-motivated and seen as planned to scuttle the passage of the National Health Bill into law,” adding that “we are too mature and principled to be used by any politician or group of people for evil.”
The group added, “it was not opposed to the passage of the National Health Bill (NHB) per se, but disagree with certain provisions, which the leaders of NMA smuggled into the bill through the connivance of the present Minister of Health, Prof. Onyebuchi Chukwu, who is a leader of the NMA.”
The health workers accused the minister of Health of being too political with the healthcare system management, and called for reconstitution of boards of management of tertiary hospitals for adequate representation of health professionals.
The statement reads, “it is because of structural lopsidedness and the unfair representation of other desirable health professional groups at decision making organs of our health system that Nigerian health services are rated as one of the poorest in the world with the lowest health indices, even in Africa.”
“Solution to these problems is a complete transformation of the national health system beginning with the immediate removal of the present two ministers of health (both are NMA leaders) and their replacement with two new persons who should be appointed from the two warring constituencies – NMA /JOHESU such that there would be balancing of forces and harmony in the sector.
“Next, the office of the Head of Service of the Federation (HOCSF) should be directed by the presidency to restructure and re-organise the Federal Ministry of Health in such a way that major health professional groups be made to head the six professional directorates in the ministry.
While other health professional groups not represented at the director’s level be allowed to have deputy and assistant directors to promote robust policy formulation.
“Also, the boards of management of all tertiary hospitals should be reconstituted to have fair representation of other health professional associations as well as the registered trade unions and that no professional group should have more than two representatives on each board.”
“Finally, teaching hospitals should be made to operate autonomously from their associated university’s colleges of health sciences, while suitable guidelines be worked out to ensure collaboration between them. The current situation where the university lecturers have completely taken over the management of our teaching hospitals should be reversed.”
By Joseph Okoghenun
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