Health workers, under the auspices of the National Union of Allied Health Professionals (NAUHP), have expressed dissatisfaction with the composition of the Presidential Committee on Health Sector Reform chaired by Vice-President Yemi Osinbajo.
The union demanded the the reconstitution of presidential committee to include representatives of other healthcare professionals and health sector unions.The healthcare workers, made up of professionals in the Pharmacy, Medical Laboratory Science, Physiotherapy, Radiography, Dietetics, Dental Technology, Occupational Therapy, Health Information Management, Nutrition, Medical Social work, Speech Therapy, Optometry, Clinical Psychology, Prosthetics/Orthotics, Medical Physics and Audiology, said the constitution of the presidential commitee was skewed in favour of medical doctors to the exclusion of other health care workers.
The workers further sued for a complete overhauling of public health infrastructure nationwide.
The President of NUAHP, Dr. Obinna Ogbonna, who addressed a press conference in Abuja on Monday, said: “The reform commitee with over 95 per cent presence of physicians already negates the rights and liberties of the majority of health workers in Nigeria.”He said that the training of medical practitioners is also being given priority over other healthcare professionals.
Ogbonna said that another disturbing trend is that physicians believe that they “own” the patients, whereas the World Medical Association stated that they have an obligation to cooperate in coordination of medically indicated care with other healthcare providers treating the patients.
Nigeria’s health sector is currently rated 187 globally, close with war-ravaged countries.He said that the bone of contention is the controversial Decree 10 of 1985 promulgated by the military and is still in use.
Ogbonna blamed the offensive decree as being responsible to a large extent for the detoriation in the country’s health sector, thus leading to the scandalous drop in Nigeria’s global rating.
Ogbonna said that the health workers are demanding outright stoppage of all forms of discriminatory and unfair practices against other health professionals in full compliance with International Labour Organisation Convention and Sections 15 (2), 17 (3), and 42 of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999 as amended.He also said that the appointment of Chief Medical Director (CMD) should be thrown open for other health care professionals to compete and should be redesignated as Chief Executive Officer.
The union’s other demands include: the commencement of the payment of new hazard allowance for healthcare workers, implementation of sections of past presidential committee reports on health sector considered to be fair to all stakeholders, immediate implementation of circular on Pharmacist Consultant Cadre
and approval and implementation of the adjusted Consolidate Health Salary Structure (CONHESS).NAUHP is also demanding the payment of outstanding arrears of promotion, withheld salaries and other allowances in all federal health institutions and full implementation of CONHESS for state health workers in states yet to do so.
The President of the Trade Union Congress (TUC), Mr. Quadri Olaleye, said it is very necessary that the ministry of health and Labour should ensure the immediate removal of all dismcrinatory practices and dichotomy in the health sector.
He also said that the same action should be taken to reorder the salaries and wages in the health sector to avoid the persistent squabbles and intra-trade union disputes that has negatively impacted on the smooth operations of our healthcare facilities.Also speaking at the event, the Cuban Ambassador, Clara Escandiel, said that health is a very critical issue in the development of any society.
She also said that healthcare constitutes a fundamental aspect of human rights which should not be neglected.
She said that Cuba has been able to attain great heights in the medical field due to hard work and determination by government and its people despite years of the economic blockade against the country.