As President Muhammadu Buhari considers members for the cabinet ahead of his second term in office from May 29, organised labour in the health sector has reinstated their position against privatisation of public health institutions and demanded an end to the system of appointing only medical doctors as minister of health and chief medical directors of health institutions.
Medical and Health Workers Union of Nigeria (MHWUN), at its just-concluded 10th national quadrennial delegates’ conference in Abuja, warned that it would, in conjunction with other unions and parent bodies like the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) and the Trade Union Congress (TUC), oppose the practice.
President of the union, Comrade Josiah Biobelemoye, who was re-elected for a second term of four years at the conference, stated that Buhari should ensure that hospital administrators are also considered to run hospitals rather than medical doctors.
The MHWUN president said: “As long as the appointment of minister of health, directors in the Ministry of Health and chief executives of health institutions remains the birth right of one profession, the medical doctors, to the exclusion of other health professionals in the team, turbulence and inefficiency shall continue to thrive, as they are only not trained for such duties, their discriminatory approach would continue to invite protestations from other members of the health team who are in the majority.”
Speaking further on the state of the health sector in Nigeria, he noted that health care delivery system has deteriorated to the extent that it is embarrassing to look with nostalgia how Nigeria was once the hub of health care, which neighbouring countries in the African region considered the Mecca for health pilgrimage.
He pointed out that many factors have conspired to cast this dark cloud on Nigerian health care, prominent among which is the attempt by government to lean towards the policy of the capitalist West to privatise health institutions, especially tertiary health institutions.
At the conference, Biobelemoye was unanimously re-elected along with 25 other national executive council members.
Led by the president, all the elected officers took oath of office, administered by Barr. Tony Oghagbo, deputy secretary general of the union.
For what the members described as excellent performance in the last four years, all the 26 members of the national executive council were returned unopposed.
The MHWUN president promised to move the union to greater heights.