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Nigerian Medical Association...

NMA Bemoans Ailing Health Sector As Nigeria Turns 63

In a statement to mark Nigeria’s 63rd Independence Anniversary, Benjamin Oluwatosin, the Chairman of the Lagos State chapter of the Nigerian Medical Association (NMA), lamented the hindrances in the development of the health sector in the country.

According to him, the health sector is nothing to write home about, adding that despite the increasing population, the health sector has continued to regress, adding that yearly budgetary allocation to the sector is below the standard.

“From 1960 to date, Nigeria has been an epicentre of many events: the good, bad, and ugly. Her health sector was not spared in these series of melodrama displayed across the length and breadth of the green-white-green Republic.

“It is shocking to note that as the population spikes, the health facilities across the nation shrink. Many hospitals have sadly become memorabilia of their glory days. Like the biblical depiction of ignoble regression, these hospitals are nothing but Ichabod. The yearly budgetary allocation for the health sector perfectly expresses how forsaken our health sector has become. Needless to say, we are always below the United Nations safe threshold for budgetary health allocation.

“It is commonplace to see people die of avoidable deaths because hospitals are scantily equipped yet heavily flooded with patients. Rather than put on their thinking caps to fix this despicable mess, our leaders have shamefully exonerated themselves from the needless quagmire they gleefully invented, no thanks to their selfish and winners-take-all style of governance.”

The NMA chairman condemned Nigerian leaders who neglect the citizens and travel abroad for medical care.

Read Also: Medical Tourism: Nigeria Spent $1.04m in Q1 2023

“Now, they’ve resorted to medical tourism without bothering about the citizenry. For the slightest deviation in their health, they are on their way to foreign hospitals, so any ravenous ‘health quake’ can swallow others; they are less concerned. The mitochondrion of health care sustainability of every nation is education and research. This Siamese twin is steadily dying in Nigeria, and its comatose state is nearer to the celestial than the terrestrial.

“Medical students who are the future of the health sector, their studies and training are constantly inhibited and thwarted by ASUU strikes. This disturbing interruption in their training is now predictable, and solutions seem far from the horizon. Gradually and steadily, graduate medical doctors find it difficult to get appropriate placement to finetune their medical training further post-NYSC.”

“As a nation, we have seemingly lost our moral compass. We have no value for the lives of people. Interestingly, but shockingly, our leaders dearly protect theirs at the expense of the masses. How long can we keep hiding behind one finger?

“This deadly hypocrisy has come to a head. Medical practitioners now find solace in other countries that value their expertise, compensating them with fatter pay and affectionate care. Hence, there is an increase in the exodus of medical doctors off our shore. This unabated transit has been christened JAPA and other jaw-cracking names, but what is not funny is the brain drain we shall soon experience. It may be worse than the sting of COVID-19.

Also, he said, Nigerian doctors are transplanted to favourable nations; they become touch bearers and sparkling beacons of medical practice.

“Our problem has never been low cerebral ability or poor technical prowess. But a lack of political will to do what is right. It is heart-wrenching that in the 21st century, the number of people who still die of malaria and maternal death is still in the millions. Yes, Nigeria has turned 63, and it is worth celebrating. But a glance at the poor gait of our health sector demands reflection, introspection, and redirection.”