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Health Workers to Buhari: Don’t Appoint only Doctors as Ministers of Health

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The Medical and Health Workers Union of Nigeria (MHWUN) has warned President Muhammadu Buhari on the need to avoid past mistakes in his appointment of ministers, especially as it concerns the ministry of Health. MHWUN urged the president not to appoint only Medical Doctors as Ministers of Health.

In the current dispensation, the two ministers of Health, Prof. Isaac Adewole and Dr. Osagie Ehinare are both medical doctors and not until recently, the permanent secretary of the ministry was also a medical doctor. Nigerians are looking forward towards appointment of new ministers as the president sets to commence his second term in office on 29th May 2019.

The first term of the Buhari administration is expected to wind down on 29th May, 2019 and he is expected to dissolve his cabinet latest 24 hours before the end of the current administration. The union argued that appointing two ministers from the same segment of the medical profession to head the ministry does not promote healthy working environment.

MHWUN National President, Com. Biobelemoye Josiah said ordinary because of the existence of other professionals, appointment of ministers should be a mix. He noted that one can be a medical doctor while the other can be from any of the other professions within the medical sector.

Besides, Josiah called for the return of the management of health institutions to hospital administrators who have the capacity to manage the institutions. He spoke yesterday in Abuja at the 10th National Quadrennial delegates conference of the Union.

Josiah noted that the last four years is the worst for health delivery in the country, saying many factors conspired to cast a very gloomy and dark cloud on the horizon in the Nigerian health care delivery system. He therefore warned that as long as the appointment of ministers of health, and other key positions are held by only one of profession to the exclusion of other health professionals, there will continue to be disruptions in healthcare delivery.

He said,”As long as the appointment of ministers of Health, Directors in the ministry of health and the Chief Executives of health institutions remain the birthright of one profession, to the exclusion of other health professionals in the team, turbulence and inefficiency shall continue to thrive as they are 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. As long as government does not make conscious efforts to break this monopoly by the medical doctors, a monopoly that is self-serving, Nigerians would continue to suffer for it.”

He posited that “As an immediate action to put confidence into Nigerians, the appointment of Ministers in the ministry must not necessarily be to only health professionals in order to halt politics of exclusion that has taken tap roots in the ministry.

“We believe the appointments of both doctors and other health professionals as ministers, or the mixing of appointments of both doctors and other health professionals as ministers in the Ministry of Health would go a long way in boosting the confidence of the operators/ stakeholders in the ministry .

MHWUN president also opposed the school of thought that is pushing for privatization of the health care industry.

While stressing that privatization is not an option, Josiah said that it is the business of the government to provide for security and welfare and well being of its citizenry.

“If the business of government is to provide for security and the welfare and well being of its citizenry, then privatization of health industry as being saliently canvassed by the managers of the health systems in Nigeria. Would not provide the answer,” he said.

On the management of the medical institutions in the country, Josiah said ” In the long run, we advise the revitalization of the healthcare delivery by returning the management of health institutions to Hospital Administrators who have not only been trained for such functions but also possess the professional attitude to manage these institutions without fear or favour of any professional group.”

This, he argued “would reduce incidence of friction in the system and would provide untainted and unbiased advise and information to government on the way forward in our healthcare delivery system.” In his remark, Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) President, Dr. Wabba Ayuba pointed out that democracy must work for the people and not for the selected few.

He stressed that in Nigeria it is the poor that is subsidizing the rich which should be the other way round.

This he said was as a result of deep gap between the rich and the poor.

He said, “The inequality gap between the rich and the poor in our country is getting expanded. Whereas in other countries it is the rich that subsidize for the poor but in our case, it is the poor that subsidize for the rich.

“In other climes, the increase of salary to all classes of workers in the society is done based on certain indices, either inflation, cost of living index. If you are increasing the salary of political office holders, you must also look at the same percentage for the salary of workers. We generate the wealth of our nation and must be partakers of the wealth we create. ”

He therefore urged President Buhari to bring on board people who will work for him and add value to governance.

“President Mohammed Buhari must be very selective in bringing the team that will work for him, not people that have nothing to add to the system. We have seen that in the past years, it has been difficult for him to change his cabinet and by now he must have realized the bad and the good ones among them,” he said.

Speaking earlier, Comrade Abubakar Shanabo, Chairman MHWUN FCT noted that the national delegates’ conference provides another opportunity to re-elect their president who he said has done very well in the last four years.

Source: Medical World Nigeria 

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