ABUJA (Min of Labour and Employment Report) – The Minister of Labour and Employment, Sen. Chris Ngige has challenged the Nigerian Medical Association (NMA) to take the battle for the upliftment of the National Healthcare System to the thirty-six states of the Federation.
He made this known when he received the leadership of the Association in his office in Abuja recently.
The Minister who frowned at State Governors who abdicate their responsibilities of providing healthcare facilities and services to the people of the States and turning the General Hospitals to glorified residences for rodents and reptiles, called on the NMA to mobilize and sensitize its State Chapters, to take up the issue of the unfortunate abandonment of the responsibilities in healthcare delivery by the State Governments.
He further charged them to encourage their State Chapters to live up to expectation by fighting to protect the State’s healthcare system, saying it is out of place for a Teaching Hospital to take up lesser healthcare cases that could have been handled by a Primary Healthcare as this mounts pressure on those teaching hospitals, making them unable to deliver on the major jobs they are supposed to do.
Sen. Ngige advised the NMA to put on their thinking caps as it was becoming impossible for the Federal Government to fund the health system, in line with the Abuja declaration, as a result of dwindling resources, saying the effective use of resources was now mandatory.
He said, “Let us use whatever we have effectively and efficiently. Let’s plug leakages and wastes. There is a lot of waste in the system. Some doctors don’t take call duties but are paid call duty allowances. Why do you take call duty allowance when you are not on call? Some doctors also are not exposed to hazards but take hazard allowances. Why?”
Providing insight on the just concluded Consequential Adjustment of the National Minimum Wage, he regretted that a heavy chunk of the federal government budget was being used to fund the current expenditure, thus limiting dangerously, the capacity of government to deliver on physical infrastructures.
He said, “How do we reconcile the fact that we are doing a budget of N10.3 trillion in 2020 and out of that, personnel cost alone is N3.88 trillion, amounting to one third of the total? And when you add the running cost to it, it comes to N4 trillion. How do you explain that? It means we have no money left to even fund health, education and other infrastructures. We are abandoning all to pay just salaries. It is frightening and worrisome. That’s why we have to put on our thinking caps.”
He however commended the NMA for being appreciative of government’s commitment to the welfare of workers, saying that the Consolidated Medical Salary Scale was in the category B of the Public Service remuneration grade already well protected
and remunerated before the Consequential Adjustment.
The Minister similarly explained that the NMA was not involved in the negotiation for the Consequential Adjustment of the Minimum Wage contrary to its request because the association was not a registered trade union to qualify for the membership of the Joint Public Service Negotiating Council. He therefore seized the opportunity to request the NMA and the National Association of Resident Doctors(NARD) to come together and register as a union, since the Trade Union Act had made it difficult to register them as two separate unions which they aspire to, knowing that they perform the same job.
He further charged doctors in the private practice to pool resources together and form combines to enable them beat the challenges of inadequate funding and increase their capacity to access international aides.
Earlier, in his address, the President of the NMA, Dr. Francis Adedayo Faduyile, urged the Federal Government to declare emergency on the health sector and set up national healthcare fund, in the same manner government intervened in the
He also asked for the re-negotiation of the Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA) entered into with the Federal Government in 2009 which ought to be renewed every three years, arguing that some of its terms such as the N5,000 hazard allowance was out of place in today’s realities.
He congratulated the Minister for the swift and patriotic resolution of the Minimum Wage impasse, and further invited him to the National Health Summit, taking place in Abuja.
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