Health workers under the umbrella of Joint Health Sector Unions (JOHESU)/Assembly of Healthcare Professional Associations (AHPA) have raised the alarm over plans by the Federal Government to privatise public health institutions.
The workers who include all the professionals in the health sector besides doctors, yesterday, at a press briefing in Lagos, cautioned President Muhammadu Buhari against the proposed healthcare agenda and health sector restructuring which they argued will not serve the best interest of Nigeria. The workers, therefore, called for a truly broad-based platform of professional associations and unions in the health sector to come up with a health agenda that will impact the sector in Nigeria.
The health workers expressed hope that President Muhammadu Buhari will urgently redress the myriad of outstanding welfare issues of health professionals and workers in Nigeria in the same spirit in the days ahead.
They alleged that the health sector is one of those sectors placed under the supervision of Vice President Yemi Osinbajo and that six doctors including agents of Western donor agencies in Lagos State that championed the commercialisation of health facilities were charged with the responsibility of crafting the health policy of the Buhari administration.
The health workers said one of the key recommendations of the six-man committee was to canvass a ‘reform of the Federal Ministry of Health and reduce the number of agencies from 14 to three based on alignment of scope and deliverables.’
They alleged that the Buhari administration has sought views and position papers on healthcare agenda from strange templates especially a particular group of entrepreneurs in healthcare rather than the true representatives of healthcare providers and who are well structured into various healthcare professional associations and trade unions.
The health workers further alleged that the pecuniary motives of the entrepreneurs in healthcare who belong to an array of professions and background remain an inclination to access funds provided by the International Finance Corporation (IFC). “They plan to lord their concept of privatisation and commercialisation on the health sector, notwithstanding the damaging effects it will bring to consumers of health services and the economy of the Federal Republic of Nigeria. It is apt to put on record that the operatives of International Finance Corporation who are citizens of Nigeria have no respect for our laws.”
“They insist on a version of reforms in healthcare that are self-serving in terms of their narrow commercial interests and those of their foreign pay-masters.
“The team has been canvassing the agenda of bringing foreign chain retail promoters in pharmacy practice into Nigeria for instance.”
The health workers warned of foreign company domination which prevents Nigeria from building capacity through Nigerian providers.
They called on the President to redress the impending damage the re-structuring of healthcare sector will occasion, in the public interest by directing appropriate quarters to embrace rational and home grown-initiatives to tackle challenges in the health sector.