Being a Press Conference addressed by the President of the Nigerian Medical Association (NMA) on the Occasion of the 2016 Physicians’ Week holding between Sunday 23rd and Saturday 29th October 2016 at the National Secretariat of NMA, Wuse Zone 4, Abuja.
Gentlemen of the press, permit me to welcome you to this 2016 Annual Physicians Week Press Conference of the Nigerian Medical Association (NMA).
NMA is the umbrella body of all Physicians and Dental Surgeons duly registered with the Medical and Dental Council of Nigeria and practicing in Nigeria and in the diaspora.
The Physicians’ Week is celebrated annually by NMA with the aim of assessing health care services across Nigeria, implementation of health care intervention measures, carry out Corporate Social Responsibilities (CSR) through medical outreaches and advocacy for the implementation of health policies by the Government.
The theme of this year’s event is ‘Health care delivery in a frail economy: challenges and way forward’. This is meant to draw attention on the impact of the economic recession currently being faced by Nigeria as it affects health care delivery system and also proffer solutions and suggestions for possible implementation by Government, Individuals and Corporate Organizations.
Some of these challenges include:
1. Low out of pocket purchases of essential health care needs by citizens of Nigeria.
2. Infrastructural decay of health facilities across the country.
3. Low budgetary provisions by all tiers of Government for the Health Sector.
4. Slow progress of Universal Health Coverage (UHC) through the National Health Insurance Scheme (NHIS).
5. Non Implementation of the National Health Act (NHA 2014) since 2014.
6. Challenges associated with Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) resulting from communal clashes, militancy, kidnappers and other criminal elements.
It is our belief that experts brainstorming through conferences and seminars during the week long activity would shed more light and proffer solutions to the aforementioned challenges affecting the health sector in our frail economy.
As part of this year’s Physicians Week, the NMA and her 37 branches and affiliates have agreed to stage a Walk on 26th of October 2016 aimed at demanding for the implementation of the NHA 2014 by the Federal Government. It is our belief that implementation of the Act will address some of the aforementioned challenges being experienced in this economic recession. More so, NMA and her members are facing ethical challenges arising from the Act since it was signed into law in 2014. Such challenges include; non provision of Certificate of Standards and the non-provision of not less than 1% of the consolidated revenue for the Basic Health Provision Fund as provided in the Act.
Before we conclude this press conference we will want to appreciate and commend the effort of the Federal Government (FG) ably lead by President Muhammadu Buhari, all the security forces, the Bring Back our Girls Group, the leadership of the Chibok community, the media, the Government of Borno State and Nigerians in general for the long awaited release of some of the kidnapped Chibok girls. We congratulate Nigerians for this great achievement of securing the release of these long suffering girls. We also wish to call on the FG to further strategize and utilize this dependable avenue to secure the release of the remaining Chibok girls and other Nigerians under the captivity of Boko Haram.
The NMA wishes to draw the attention of Government to the negative impact of the psychological trauma and health challenges facing the released Chibok girls. We wish to stress here that we are ever ready to partner in providing Voluntary Specialist Health Services to all the released Chibok girls through our members across the country.
On the issue of the IDPs, NMA wishes to stress that the conditions in most IDP camps and welfare services provided by Government are suboptimal. In view of Mr. President’s determination to fight corruption, there is a need for the FG to investigate and bring to book all those accused of diversion of relief materials meant for the IDPs. On our own part, the Executive of the NMA has constituted a committee on IPDs and we call on all State branches of the NMA with IDP challenges to do same and create time as part of their CSR to address health challenges in the camps from time to time.
At this juncture, we wish to reiterate our earlier calls on the Federal Government to reconstitute the Medical and Dental Council of Nigeria. This call becomes imperative based on the fact that issues bothering on safety and ethics relating to Doctor Patient relationship are unattended to. Not only that litigations are left undetermined in the council, it is also surprising that the Federal Government’s directive dissolving of all boards and parastatals spared all non-health related professional regulatory councils but included all health regulatory bodies under the Federal Ministry of Health. This action has made the NMA to doubt the prioritisation of health care programmes by the Federal Government in its policies
We call on the FG to extend the anticorruption crusade to all other sectors of the economy as it was done in the judiciary arm of the government. It is our belief that if this is extended to the health sector, the little resources available in the sector would be properly utilized to improve the affordability and accessibility of healthcare services to Nigerians passing through the economic recession.
Finally, NMA wishes to commend the bold step taken by the Federal Ministry of Health (FMOH) in resolving the prolonged crises bedeviling Federal Medical Centre (FMC) Owerri. The NMA wishes to state that we stand by the just released directive of the FMOH. We call on all the security agencies to be at alert and to act appropriately on any individual or group of persons who are planning to foment crises to deny the good people of Imo State from accessing quality health care services provided by the only Federal Tertiary Health Institution in the State. We also wish to call on the Management of FMC Owerri to improve on her relationship with Professional Associations and Unions and ensure equity and fairness in the discharge of their mandates.
In conclusion, the National Officers Committee of NMA calls on all Nigerian Doctors to actively participate in our week long activity and wishes them a successful outing.
Dr. Mike O. Ogirima
Dr. Yusuf Tanko Sununu