UNLIKE other members of the health team, medical doctors and dentists have backed plans of the Federal Government (FG) to privatise public health institutions for better services.
Health workers under the umbrella of the Joint Health Sector Union (JOHESU) had last week raised alarm over plans by the Federal Government to sell public health institutions across the country, which they said was capable of causing crisis in the sector.
But doctors under the aegis of the Nigerian Medical Association (NMA), in a statement, yesterday, signed by the Chairman of the Committee on Clinical Governance, Dr. Joseph Ana, accused JOHESU of raising false alarm and nefarious claim capable of generating public breach of peace and disaffection against the government and capable of causing distress among the population and discord against a popularly elected government.
The doctors said the planned Public Private Partnership (PPP) health policy as operated and practised in other countries and some states in Nigeria, with better health care outcome remains one of the tools that the President Muhammadu Buhari’s government and all state governments should introduce without any further delay, if Nigeria’s health system is to perform better.
The NMA said targeted PPP in health is aimed at improving access, efficiency, effectiveness and control of escalating health care delivery costs and the policy assures quality and safety for patient care by bringing in private sector corporate efficiency and discipline to a most essential sector in Nigeria. The association said PPP in health ultimately assures patient satisfaction and reduction in morbidity and mortality.
The doctors said the fact is and remains that many Nigerians and their governments have in the past considered and engaged the private sector to play more direct role in the health system for the good of all Nigerians.
They said all over the world targeted PPP in Health has been used as a veritable tool to fill the gaps that government alone cannot fill and thereby strengthen the health system.
The NMA argued that in Europe, UK, Australia, Canada, United States of America, Japan, South Africa, India, Egypt and even Communist China, the governments have partnered with the private sector in running aspects of their hospitals for the benefit of their people.
The NMA said no government in the world has enough resources to deliver its health objectives to its citizens because as developments in research and technology makes health care more expensive, it has become the only reasonable option that governments should partner with the private sector to be able to fund the health needs of the population.
The doctors said the advanced and improved care that take millions of Nigerians abroad on so-called medical tourism every year cannot be provided by the Federal Government or state and local governments alone. They said PPP in health brings in additional needed resources and practices that ensure that every Nigerian can receive quality health care at the time and place of need.
The NMA said Nigerians should ask JOHESU how else it expects government to fund and equip health facilities in Nigeria with the latest in health technologies and products that can guarantee that the medical tourism is reversed and Nigerians receive the best possible health care.
The doctors said the Nigerian public must be informed that doctors and dentists also work in these services and will be affected like members of JOHESU. JOHESU is afraid of the work place discipline that is an added value that PPP in health will introduce to the hospitals. The NMA said JOHESU wants it members to continue with their bad work ethics but continue to collect government pay.
They said the latest ‘falsehood’ from JOHESU that Buhari’s government plans to sell off whole teaching hospitals is seditious. “We expect the government to take on the leadership of JOHESU to explain why they seek to confuse Nigerians and whip up emotions and anger in the land against the government,” the NMA said.
The statement reads: “At a time when the new Federal Government led by President Muhammadu Buhari GCFR is pre-occupied with setting up the machinery of his administration, and all Nigerians are eagerly waiting to see the implementation of the All Progressive Congress (APC) manifesto, including the promises on health, the NMA would not have bothered to respond to the wicked latest distraction from JOHESU, mentioned above. But the false alarm and nefarious claim is capable of generating public breach of peace and disaffection against the government and is capable of causing distress among the population and discord against a popularly elected government.
“To claim that ‘the government plans to sell whole hospitals’’ is not only a wicked distortion of the facts but it is also a dangerous and unpatriotic perfidy. It is the stock-in-trade of JOHESU to disseminate falsehood at every effort made to revamp and strengthen Nigeria Health System by Government. Before the Yayale Committee Report on disharmony in the Health sector was made public, JOHESU was already crying Wolf. When JOHESU calls its members out on strike, they lock up the pharmacy, laboratories and even the life-saving equipment in intensive care wards so that Doctors on duty cannot have access to the items to save lives.
“In Nigeria, before now, before the Buhari’s Government that JOHESU is blackmailing by its false alarm, targeted PPP in Health has been considered in-depth and approved, such as in 2006 by the National Council On Health (NCH) during President Obasanjo’s administration and last year under the President Jonathan’s Administration.