From Femi Folaranmi, Yenagoa
Ahead of the forthcoming 2023 general elections in the country, the Nigerian Medical Association (NMA) and its affiliate unions have been charged to engage the presidential candidates of political parties on their respective blueprints and agenda for the health sector.
Bayelsa State Deputy Governor, Senator Lawrence Ewhrudjakpo gave the charge at the weekend while declaring open the South- South Zonal Executive Council meeting of the NMA at the Aridolf Hotel in Yenagoa, the state capital.
Ewhrudjakpo quoted in a statement by his Senior Special Assistant on Media, Mr Doubara Atasi, urged the NMA to provide the necessary leadership to make the engagement with the presidential hopefuls a reality.
According to him, such a meeting is important and relevant as it will afford stakeholders in the health sector an opportunity to hold the new government that will emerge from the 2023 elections accountable to its promises concerning the health sector.
He said quite a good number of the presidential candidates for next year’s election had consulted with the business community, media stakeholders, farmers and other groups, but wondered why they were yet to meet with critical stakeholders in the health sector.
H “Some of the presidential candidates have visited the business community, farmers, journalists and Christians, have they visited stakeholders of the health sector? Have we invited them?
“We are here talking about healthcare improvement and transition. How do we get that? A man who says he is prepared for battle but begins to shoot within his house is not prepared for the war.
“I think we are putting our priority wrong in this instance because this is a time for the NMA and all the health sector associations to put themselves together to invite all the candidates, particularly the four major ones to address us on their development agenda for health.
“The NMA should provide leadership for this to happen because, like the lecturer asserted, if we don’t make it a top priority, nobody will even make it a secondary issue in this country.
“We must begin to hold them accountable now by asking questions on what will be done so that we hold them to their promises. If we don’t do that now, I think that will be an opportunity not missed but squandered.”
Earlier in their separate remarks, the Chairman of the occasion, Professor Ebitimitula Etebu and the State Chairman of NMA, Dr Tonbara Koroye acknowledged the efforts of the Governor Douye Diri Administration towards improving healthcare in the state and called for more support to the Association
Similarly, the National President of the NMA, Dr. Uche Rowland Ojinmah, and the South South Zonal Chairperson,
Dr. Imosili Udoka, gave a pass mark to the Bayelsa Government for all the good things it had been doing in the health sector so far, and appealed for domestication of the recent federal circular on medical doctors’ allowance.