The Minister of Labour and Employment, Senator Chris Ngige, has said that unlike previous administrations, the current Federal Government has shown continual commitment to the health sector even amidst limited resources.
The Minister who said this on Thursday in Abuja while hosting the leadership of the Nigerian Medical Association (NMA), said that the Federal Government has funded most of the health acts that the previous administration did not fund.
Ngige said: “Its unfortunate that maybe previous governments in Nigeria did not take the healthcare system very seriously, particularly in terms of funding. But this government of Muhammadu Buhari, has done a lot in terms of health. I can count, as a medical doctor, what I know they have done without the prompting of NMA or anybody.
“For example, the health Act of 2013 was enacted and they didn’t implement it. From 2013 to 2015, there was no funding for it. It is this present government that started funding the act, and particularly the components that have to do with basic healthcare fund.”
“Even with the dwindling resources, the Federal Government tries to meet up its health funding. The commissioners of health in the states are medical doctors, the NMA should push them to sit up. They should not go to their state executive councils and be mute at the expense of the health of Nigerian citizens. Rather they have all abdicated their responsibilities in specialist and general hospitals. I don’t know how many states where you will see general hospitals functioning as secondary healthcare, very few. Only Lagos, Delta, Rivers, FCT and maybe Akwa Ibom.
“This Federal government has despite declining resources done and funded the residency doctors act. As a government, Muhammadu Buhari administration has done what I believe Napoleon could not do. Nigerian people’s money are now being used for Nigerians and that’s why I identify with this government. If the government is not doing what its supposed to do, I will go home. The president is stretching himself to fix the different problems in the country. From power to decaying infrastructure,” he said.
The Minister went on to speak about the importance of quality healthcare, saying: “When I was Governor of Anambra state, the first port of call was NMA and teachers. That is because both health and education are crucial social services. When you put government’s money in health or education, you don’t see bridges or roads come up, rather you are investing in human capital and the wellbeing of the people. If people are sick and die, then the government doesn’t have anybody to govern or give service. That’s why they say, health is wealth. A patient in the hospital will tell you that what matters to him is his life not skyscrapers or bridges.
The President of the NMA, Prof Innnocent Ujah thanked the Minister for his efforts in ensuring that the federal government payed the COVID-19 hazard allowance to Nigerian medical workers. He went further to plead with him to request state Governors to follow suit in payment of hazard allowance.
Ujah said: “We wish to appreciate you for all your intervention in the challenge that burdened the healthcare workers in Nigeria. We are aware of your tremendous effort to ensure that the COVID-19 hazard allowance is paid, however there are still some other healthcare workers that have not been captured: National Association of Doctors in University Health Services (NADUHS), National Association of Government General Medical and Dental Practitioners (NAGGMDP) and others.”