NMA calls for review of hazard allowance for doctors, health workers

…PPP, health bank, compulsory health insurance, panacea to accessible, affordable healthcare

By Hassan Zaggi

The President, Nigeria Medical Association (NMA), Prof. Innocent Ujah, has advocated for the upward review of what he described as, the current abysmally poor hazard allowance paid to medical doctors and other frontline health workers in the public service.

He made the call at a media briefing to mark the year 2020 Physicians’ Week.

Prof. Ujah was represented by the NMA Chairman in the FCT, Dr. Enema Amodu.

The NMA President further insisted for the government to provide accessible and affordable health care for all Nigerians, it must make Health Insurance Scheme compulsory for all adult Nigerians, establish a Health Bank and also intensify Public-Private Policy (PPP).

He reiterated that: “Whereas Nigeria has a ratio of one doctor -to-5000 Nigerians with many of these doctors chronically overworked, yet they are not adequately motivated, encouraged nor incentivized in any form. Giving incentives to health care workers will motivate them to work harder and give their best.”

Prof. Ujah who condemned in strong terms the kidnapping and killing of medical doctors and other health workers by insurgents, called on the federal government “to do all within her power to rescue those in captivity while ensuring the security and safety of other health workers as well as every other Nigerian.”

He lambasted state governments that are owing doctors in their employment salaries and allowances for upward of eleven to 16 months.

“This is highly demotivating and clearly unacceptable. It is our firm belief that with the right support from the governments, our efforts to provide excellent services to Nigerians will continue to contribute to national development for social and economic growth,” he stressed.

Commenting on COVID-19, the NMA President said that the disease has exposed the weakness of health systems across the world.

“Covid-19 pandemic has nakedly exposed the inadequacies of health systems around the world in response to the pandemic.

“Sadly, many health systems across the world were overwhelmed by the pandemic due to inadequate emergency preparedness and response, largely due to inadequate human resources, infrastructural deficit and medical consumables, including personal protective equipment and other Protective Equipment. Gross under-funding of the health sector is a major factor.”

He, therefore, insisted that: “Covid-19 must mark a turning point for healthcare financing and healthcare services.

“The present moment offers a unique opportunity to strengthen our health systems, through greater access to life-saving technologies, improvements in critical subsystems, long-term investments in institution building, and capacity building and leadership development.”

While lamenting that as at October 8, 2020, 1,031 medical doctors were exposed to the Corona virus in Nigeria and 321 of them were confirmed positive, he regretted, “16 of our members were painfully lost in the battle to save the lives of Nigerians. The prize we have to pay in obedience to the Hippocratic Oath.”

He, therefore, commended all doctors practicing in Nigeria who, he stressed, “in the face of daunting challenges and grave risks to life and livelihood continue to maintain the highest possible standard of professionalism in providing health care services to Nigerians.”

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