Stakeholders charge new Minister of Health, others on harmony in sector, universal coverage


Minister of Health, Prof. Isaac Folorunsho Adewole

Medical lab scientists want equal attention for all professional groups
AFTER a long wait, President Muhammadu Buhari, yesterday, November 11, 2015, appointed Prof. Isaac Folorunso Adewole as the new of the Federal Republic of Nigeria with Dr. Osagie Ehanire as the Minister of State for Health, and Dr. Amina Shamaki as Permanent Secretary, Federal Ministry of Health (FMOH).

Meanwhile, stakeholders have charged the new minister to ensure harmony in the health sector especially intervening in the perennial disagreement and battle for supremacy between doctors and other health workers; and universal health coverage.

Doctors under the aegis of the Nigerian Medical Association (NMA), National Association of Resident Doctors (NARD) and Guild of Medical Directors (GMD) have been at loggerheads with other health workers under the umbrella of Joint Health Sector Unions (JOHESU) and Allied Health Professionals Association (AHPA) over the headship of the sector.

JOHESU/AHPA had advised President Muhammadu Buhari not to appoint a medical doctor as the new health minister if he wants lasting peace and industrial harmony in the sector.

According to Wikipedia, born May 5, 1954, Adewole, is a Nigerian professor of Gynecology and Obstetrics. He is the Vice Chancellor of the University of Ibadan and former President of the African Organisation for Research and Training in Cancer. Prior to his appointment as the 11th substantive Vice Chancellor of the University, he served as Provost, College of Medicine, University of Ibadan, the largest and oldest Medical school in Nigeria. His research interest is in the area of Human papillomavirus, Human Immuno-deficiency Virus (HIV) and Gynecologic oncology, a specialized field of medicine that focuses on cancers of the female reproductive system, including ovarian cancer, uterine cancer, vaginal cancer, cervical cancer, and vulvar cancer. Professor Isaac is a member of the governing council, Adeleke University and currently chairs the National Panel on Cervical Cancer Control Policy.

In a publication by New Telegraph, Professor Isaac was described as a great scholar and erudite administrator. He is the only Nigerian Professor appointed as member of council of the Association of Commonwealth Universities, an association that represents 535 universities from 37 Commonwealth countries. In recognition of his outstanding research and expertise in the area of cancer, he was appointed to serve as member of the International advisory board of “African Cancer institute”, a comprehensive cancer center in sub- Saharan black Africa.

On May 5, 2014, he celebrated his 60th birthday and a public lecture was held at the International Conference Centre of the University of Ibadan. The lecture recalled how traducers tried relentlessly to sabotage his appointment as the Vice Chancellor of the institution in 2010. The Chairman of the 60th birthday celebration was Wole Olanipekun a legal luminary, Senior Advocate of Nigeria, former President of the Nigerian Bar Association and past Pro-Chancellor of the University. He described Professor Isaac as a “cat not only with nine lives, but one with 18 lives, who surmounted all the travails and conspiratorial petitions hatched against him by his traducers.”

Minister of State for Health, Dr. Osagie Ehanire

Minister of State for Health, Dr. Osagie Ehanire

In 2012, he was elected as fellow of the Nigerian Academy of Science, the apex academic organization in Nigeria. He was inducted into the academy, alongside with Professor Mojeed Olayide Abass, a Nigerian Professor of Computer science at the University of Lagos and Professor Akinyinka Omigbodun, the President of the West African College of Surgeons and former Provost of the College of Medicine, University of Ibadan. In 2014, he was appointed as Member Governing Council, Adeleke University and on June 2015 he was appointed as Member, Governing Council, Pan-African University, a post-graduate training and research network of university nodes in five regions, supported by the African Union. On March 28, he was appointed as Independent National Electoral Commission’s Collation Officer in Lagos State for the Nigerian general election, 2015 and on April 11, he served as Returning Officer for Lagos State gubernatorial election.

Commonwealth Medical Association (CMA) and pharmacists under the aegis of the Pharmaceutical Society of Nigeria (PSN) have set agenda for the new Minister of Health for the development of the sector.

Top on the agenda set for Adewole, is on Universal Health Coverage (UHC). The Society in a congratulatory letter accompanied by an agenda for healthcare in Nigeria and signed by its President, Olumide Akintayo, said the PSN considers it necessary that the in-coming Minister come up with specific action plans on UHC by full incorporation of Community Based Social Health Insurance Programme (CBSHIP).

However, the CMA Vice President (West African Region), Dr. Osahon Enabulele, wants new Minister of Health to strive towards a ‘strict’ and ‘committed’ implementation of the National Health Act, which became law late last year.

Among other things, the CMA also wants the Adewole to restrict government’s funding of travels for foreign medical treatment by political and public office holders. It makes case for improved political commitment to Nigeria’s health sector and the fundamental health rights of Nigerians.

The PSN said there is a need for universal coverage, but the condition precedent is to harness and consolidate the philosophy of a managed care concept that is statute entrenched.

Meanwhile, in a clear departure from its recent past postures, the Association of Medical Laboratory Scientists of Nigeria (AMLSN), on Tuesday, congratulated President Muhammadu Buhari over his ministerial appointments in the health sector.

But the Association charged the Ministers to handle all professionals in the health sector as requiring equal attention and treatment

In a reaction to the appointments, National President of the Association, Toyosi Raheem, told The Guardian that his group would continue to work with the Ministers to move the healthcare sector forward.
Raheem said: “For us as members of AMLSN, we hereby reiterate our commitment to work with the government at all levels in Nigeria and with all the appointed ministers especially those in the FMOH so as to strengthen the Nigerian health system.

“AMLSN specifically noted with delight, that the new Minister of Health- Prof Isaac Adewole- a seasoned university administrator who successfully coordinated various faculties, departments, units, professionals both in health and non health sectors in a renown university, is currently heading the Ministry of Health”

“We appeal to the Minister and minister of state for health to handle all professionals in the health sector as requiring equal attention and treatment just as it was done when the new minister was a university Vice Chancellor.

He went on: “It is also our expectation, that the Ministry under administration of President Mohammadu Buhari will address the age long cry of the over 90 per cent of the professionals in the health team who have frequently raised alarm on the perpetual oppression by majority of those who were previously at the helm of affairs at the Federal Ministry of Health.
“We therefore appeal to Mr. President to keep a close eye in the activities of the health sector to ensure justice, equity and fairness to all professional groups in the sector because the inability to manage this in the past has always been the reason for incessant industrial disharmony.
“While we continue to show understanding where necessary, it is our believe that the era of impunity and lawlessness are gone forever!”

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