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Senate Considers bill to address braindrain in medical sector

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Senate Considers bill to address braindrain in medical sector

**moves to block revenue loss from medical tourism

The Senate in a bid to checkmate exodus of doctors and nurses to other countries has considered a bill that would sufficiently address remuneration of the employees of the Federal Medical Centers.

The bill also aims to minimise revenue losses through medical tourism as it would discourage Nigerians from traveling to other countries for medical care. 
 
The bill titled: Federal Medical Centres (Establishment) Bill, 2021, was sponsored by Senator Aishatu Dahiru Ahmed (APC, Adamawa Central).
 
Leading the debate on the bill, Senator Ahmed said the absence of a legal framework for the regulation, development and management of Federal Medical Centers to set standards for rendering health services was responsible for hindering the provision of intensive, effective and efficient health care services to the people of Nigeria. 
 
According to the lawmaker, “This has led to a number of challenges in the health sector including but not limited to under-funding, weak facilities and infrastructure, poor motivation of health workers, low budget, weak accountability, conflicts with the political structure of the states and industrial strikes which has led to inadequacies, shortcomings and weaknesses which hinder effective health care delivery services.”
 
She noted that the passage of the bill will “Reduce the number of Nigerians who have to go to other countries for medical care.”
 
The lawmaker lamented that, “an average of 20,000 Nigerians travel to India each year for medical assistance due to the absence of a solid healthcare system at home.”
 
Senator Ahmed further noted that the piece of legislation would also sufficiently address remuneration of the employees of the Medical Centers which in turn would check the exodus of doctors and nurses to other countries.
 
“Seventy-seven percent of black doctors in the US are Nigerians and there is rarely any top medical institution in the US or Europe where you don’t find Nigerians managing at the top level.
 
“Hardly a year passes without a major national strike by nurses, doctors, or health consultants. The major reasons for these strikes are poor salaries and lack of government investment in the health sector,” she said. 
 
Citing a report of the United Nations International Children’s Emergency Fund, Ahmed stressed that the bill would “improve on the persistent rate of avoidable deaths of all Nigerians.”
 
“A recent UNICEF report has it that “preventable or treatable diseases such as malaria, pneumonia, diarrhea, measles and HIV/AIDS account for more than 70 percent of the estimated one million under-five deaths in Nigeria,” she said.  
 
She added that with the right data, Nigeria would witness improvements to the health information system, regular and sustainable population and health-facility-based surveys; as well as have a centralized management of the many challenges of the 23 Federal Medical Centers in the country. 
 
Contributing to the debate, Senator Yahaya Oloriegbe (APC, Kwara Central) said Federal Medical Centres were incapacitated as a result of the absence of legal backing establishing them and insufficient funding.  
 
“We have about twenty-three Federal Medical Centres that were established across the country, but without legal backing.
 
“The consequence of such is that there are, what I will call policy somersault as regards the operations of these centres.
 
“You see some of the centres that have enough facilities and manpower to even be termed a Teaching Hospital, but because the legal framework did not state the standard, in terms of infrastructures, manpower and services, they remain like that, and it becomes at the whims and caprices of the policy makers in the Federal Ministry of  Health. 
 
“The consequences in terms of funding allocation, Federal Medical Centres receive less fund compared to Teaching Hospitals, the lawmaker said. 
 
On his part, Senator Ibn Na’Allah said the bill was timely as it seeks “to ensure that all institutions of government are governed by law.”
 
“We cannot continue to operate a democracy where public funds are disbursed to institutions that are not recognize by law. That is not right,” Na’Allah added.
 
The bill after scaling Second Reading was referred by the Senate President, Ahmad Lawan, to the Committee on Health for further legislative work.
 
The Committee which is Chaired by Senator Ibrahim Yahaya Oloriegbe is expected to report back in four weeks.
  

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At last resident doctors bow to pressure, suspend nationwide strike

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At last resident doctors bow to pressure, suspend nationwide strike

The National Association of Resident Doctors, (NARD) on Saturday suspended its 10 days old strike after sustained pressure mounted on them to shelve the strike by stakeholders.
The National President of the Association, Dr Uyilawa Okhuaihesuyi said the strike was suspended after series of long hours of meetings with various stakeholders in the health sector.
He said based on their responsibility to Nigerians and the fact that the Federal government has met some of their demands they have no option but to call off the strike.

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Resident Doctors would account for the blood of any patient that dies on account of their ongoing strike action, says senate

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Resident Doctors would account for the blood of any patient that dies on account of their ongoing strike action, says senate

The Senate committee on health has faulted the strike action embarked upon by the resident Doctors which is having a telling effect on patients.

The chairman of the committee Senator Ibrahim Oloriegbe said Nigerians would hold the resident doctors responsible for the blood of any patient that dies on account of their ongoing strike action.

Oloriegbe spoke at the public hearing  of the bill entitled  “Federal Medical Centre, Mubi, Adamawa State (Establishment) Bill, 2021” sponsored by Senator Aishatu Dahiru Ahmed (Binani) 

According to him, the National Assembly made every effort to avert the doctors ongoing strike to no avail. 

“We had a marathon meeting just before Easter on March 21st specifically and we agreed on all the issues that were raised by the resident doctors.

He said there three Germain issues which included the payment of salary to house officers which as at that time they also agreed had been essentially been cleared which was the major reason they wanted to go on strike.

“The second one was what they claimed to be payment to local resident doctors, which was an aberration where there was not supposed to be local but the government agreed to commence payment which has started to be done.

“Those are the two critical ones that were germane most of the other issues that were raised were not even issues within the purview of the federal government because they were issues of state governments that owed salaries or something. 

He said they are issues that relate to things that were in 2014, 2015 which was as at that meeting, the Federal Ministry of Finance confirmed that a committee has been set up to look at the other aspects. 

“So we are surprised that the resident doctors went on strike. However, we are not reneging, my counterparts in the house of Representatives are meeting with the resident doctors.”

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World Health Day: Govt decries shortage of vaccines as communities groan over neglect n Nasarawa

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World Health Day: Govt decries shortage of vaccines as communities groan over neglect n Nasarawa

Umar Egbunu Muhammed, Lafia

The Nassarawa State Government has raised the alarm over shortages of essential supplies of COVID-19 vaccines for its citizens who are yet to access the ongoing COVID-19 vaccination particularly the vulnerable persons in the state.

This state commissioner of health, Pharmacist Ahmed Baba-Yahaya made the disclosure during the World Health Day in Lafia, the Nasarawa state capital on Wednesday.

According to him, “The COVID-19 pandemic has shown the light on the inequalities among the citizens amidst shortages of essential supplies, poor people have been pushed to the back of the queue in accessing COVID-19 test kits in the state.”

He continued: “There are several shades of inequalities, discrimination based on gender, place of residence, income, educational level, age, ethnicity and disability to disadvantage of the vulnerable populations across the state.”

He, however, emphasized that there was need to start to act on the social and economic determinations of the people, by working across sectors to improve living and working conditions, particularly the marginalized groups.

While reacting on the challenges being faced by the vulnerable persons in the state, he urged leaders at various levels to work together to address inequalities in their respective countries, specially on COVID-19 vaccines.

The commissioner of health also admonished pharmaceutical companies to expand their manufacturing capacity to overcome current supply shortages in the state, urging wealthy individuals to partner with the state government so that the most at risk populations in all countries could be protected.

Also residents in Lafia, the Nasarawa state capital, Awe, Keana and Obi local government areas and others in the state have expressed worry over lack of access to COVID-19 test in their locality.

Narrating his ordeal, Mr. John Daniel, said they could not access the COVID-19 test in their community, owning to the fact that the health workers trained by the Primary Development Agency in charge of administering COVID-19 tests are focussing on tge rich in the state.

He said: “We are poor people. We have been relegatedto the background because we are not government workers.”

Also speaking to our correspondent, Ovey Timothy, said since the state government commenced the COVID-19 test the health workers have not be able to reach their community.

His words: “We are calling on the state government to urgently intervene and come to their rescue.”

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