Doctors march on Aso Rock, seek increased funding of health sector
Doctors, civil society organisations and other stakeholders in the health sector yesterday marched on the Presidential Villa, Abuja to demand increased funding of the health sector.
Though the Department of State Services (SSS) stopped the protesters at the entrance of the villa, they however, submitted their petition for transmission to President Muhammadu Buhari.
The President of the Nigerian Medical Association (NMA), Dr. Mike Ogirima, called on government to pay greater attention to the good health of its citizens.
According to Ogirima, “The passage into law of the National Health Act by the National Assembly and subsequent assent by the President was received with a sign of relief by the general public and the NMA in particular. This was because the Act made specific charge on the consolidated revenue of the Federal Government.
“The fund is to take care of the basic minimum health package through the National Health Insurance Scheme (NHIS), provision of essential drugs and consumables, equipment and infrastructure, training of health workers and provision of emergency care.”He spoke of the concerns of Nigerian doctors over the delay in the implementation and noted that the time to implement the health act is now.
The groups further demanded the operationalisation of NHA with increased enrollment in NHIS, noting how that would bring about the much-desired Universal Health Coverage. This, they say, is the way to ensure health citizens.
Country Representative of ONE in Nigeria, Mr. Edwin Ikhuoria, emphasised the essence of the walk: “The goal of the advocacy is that government should implement the National Health Act. The law, which was enacted two years ago, hasn’t been implemented yet. We are not here to appeal. All we are saying is that the government should follow the rule of law by implementing the NHAct.”
In a related development, the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) said it had spent over $18 million in checking infant mother mortality in Nigeria.
The U.S. Consul General, Mr. John Bray, who disclosed this in Calabar, Cross River State at a four-day “Saving Mothers, Giving Life (SMGL) Country Team Building,” meeting, said everyday 90 women die from childbirth in Nigeria and it is hoped that this trend will be stopped.
He said USAID had been serving 5.5 million live births annually and it is expected that by 2050, Nigeria’s population would hit 440 million.He said much had also been done in providing equipment and facilities, vaccines in Nigeria and other parts of the country.Cross River State Governor Ben Ayade urged USAID and other donor agencies to redirect their energy to poverty alleviation than on equipment and infrastructure.