BY TIMOTHY AGBOR, OSOGBO
Nigerian medical practitioners, under the umbrella of the Joint Health Sector Unions, have urged the President-elect, Bola Tinubu to be bold in addressing challenges that his administration will be inheriting in the health sector, saying that the ongoing indefinite strike by resident doctors is not targeted at rubbishing his administration.
The workers suggested a reform of the health sector and review of appointments in the Ministry and Agencies in the sector as some of the lasting solutions to the challenges bedeviling it.
National Vice Chairman, JOHESU, Dr Chimela Ogbonna, said the outgoing administration of President Muhammadu Buhari failed to revive the sector, and urged the incoming President to right the wrongs of his predecessor and take the credit.
While stressing that the strike embarked upon by resident doctors was to shame Buhari and tell the world that his administration didn’t treat health workers fairly, Ogbonna noted that medical practitioners would cooperate with Tinubu’s administration and support it to end brain drain in the industry.
“The Buhari government, through the Federal Ministry of Health, has not treated us fairly. Look at the issue that has snowballed for about nine and half years; they inherited it, could not solve it and they are leaving it. Since they could not solve it, we also want to show them that they disappointed us,” he said.
“We don’t want when the new government comes in, they will be thinking that we are antagonistic or trying to discredit them or oppose them. The strike is starting now in the era of President Buhari and it’s not targeted at the government of His Excellency, Bola Ahmed Tinubu, no! But, if we start now and it enters into his government, both the liabilities and the assets will be inherited by the new government. The new government should be bold enough to call a spade a spade, treat the matter dispassionately and resolve it and they will receive the credit,” the medical expert submitted.
While pointing to ministerial appointment at the federal ministry of health as one of the key areas the new government should delve into in solving the mirage of problems in the health sector, Ogbonna urged Tinubu not to appoint any physician to head the health ministry or agencies, saying the discrimination among health workers was partly responsible for failures in the system.
He said, “The issue of heading the Federal Ministry of Health or the health institution is not the total preserve of a physician. When you look at other nations of the world that are developed, it’s not even the medical professionals or people from my own constituency, physician or the health team that head the Ministry of Health. These developed countries bring managers and seasoned administrators to take charge. Those of us who are clinicians should be busy with research and how we should take good care of our clients and patients. We shouldn’t dabble into administration. What’s our business there?
“Because we have been dabbling into it now, that is why that favouritism and discrimination is happening. So, the new government should get seasoned administrators to head the health ministries. For instance, in 2004 to 2009, when Professor Eyitayo Lambo, who is a renowned economist, was in charge of the health ministry, we had no issue of strike during the period. He was there because he was very dispassionate and focused and was not favouring anyone and the health sector was more at peace and everybody’s due was given to him.”
“But, when Onyebuchi Chukwu came in around 2009, it was around that time that he sent out a circular that there should be no skipping of office for CONHESS 10, that there should be no other people called consultants in the health sector. We took it to court and on the 22nd of July, 2013, the court ruled that those who were consultants from other health professions before now should be reinstated as consultants because they earned it and further more, if any other person should be appointed consultant, the Federal Ministry of Health should approve that. So, you see, because of discrimination and all that, people’s future and destiny in their calling are being trampled upon. That’s why you see that many people are leaving the shores of the country now because they are not having satisfaction in the job they have chosen to do,” Ogbonna explained.
Ogbonna, the National President of the Nigerian Union of Allied Professionals, further called on Tinubu to embark on far and wide-reaching reforms to generate new building blocks for sustainable development in all frontiers of the nation’s collapsing health sector.