From Fred Ezeh, Abuja
Minister of Health, Prof. Ali Pate, has promised that the health sector in Nigeria will soon experience industrial peace, bringing to an end the era of periodic industrial actions that have disrupted services in public healthcare facilities.
He said the expected industrial peace in the health sector will be accompanied by significant development and improved health care services that would culminate in increased Universal Health Coverage (UHC).
The Minister confirmed to journalists at a press conference, in Abuja, yesterday, that he has met with the leadership of the health workers’ associations, notably, JOHESU, NMA, NARD, among others, on the best way they could work harmoniously to serve the people of Nigeria
He said: “These rancours and superiority complex in the health sector does no good to anybody. The patients suffer, as well as the system. It’s time to end the rancours in the health care sector and promote industrial harmony and teamwork in the health sector for the benefit of millions of health-seeking Nigerians.
He, however, admitted that over 400,000 health workers who specialize in different field are working under difficult conditions, hence he was committed to any course that would result in improved working conditions of the health workforce.
He said: “Obviously, at the centre of the periodic strike in health care sector is the issue of working conditions as well as salaries and other welfare packages.
under the platform of CONMESS and CONHESS. I have met with the leadership of health workers association, and assured them that we would work out modalities that would resolve the issues.”
He said himself and the Minister of State, Tunji Alausa, as well as the top management of the Ministry, are committed to achieve the goal through four platforms, namely, governance, strong regulatory bodies, medical industrialization and health security.
“There’s no doubt that many of our health workers are leaving the country for a “better” working conditions, but that issue is not limited to Nigeria. However, we would put up policies and programmes that would convince the leaving-doctors that we are committed to their welfare so they can consider returning back to the country.
“Globally, there are insufficient health care manpower. To this end, we would work with governments at levels to ensure that more health care workers are trained to serve Nigerians, and serve other countries. In Nigeria, the doctor to population ratio is far lower than WHO requirement. It’s our desire that the indices change for good.”
The Minister, however, raised concerns about the growing cases of non-communicable diseases like cancer, diabetes, among several others, promising that the advocacy and enlightenment responsibilities of traditional and religious leaders as profitably used by the National Primary Health Care Development Agency (NPHCDA) would be expanded.
He added: “These set of highly respected leaders were obviously instrumental to the success that Nigeria achieved in the fight against polio and other communicable diseases. We would expand the responsibilities and engage them at national level as against the regional service they do.”
Minister of State for Health, Tunji Alausa, in his remarks, said research will receive adequate attention, even as he also confirmed that measures have been put in place to harmonize research funding and other activities to avoid duplicated activities.
He said that an international consulting firm, Mackenzie was initially engaged to access the state of Nigerian health system, and the outcome of the assessment would provide a guide for the Ministry interventions particularly in its quest to improve on health care system.
“The outcome of the assessment is crucial to us. We would deploy the recommendations and periodically review our efforts to be sure that we are achieving the desired results.”
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