By KATO P. LADAN, Kaduna
As Joint Health Workers’ Union (JOHESU) begin a one-week warning strike across Nigeria demanding a better condition of service for their members, a former Federal Legislator, Hon Shehu ABG has urged the Federal Government to as a matter of urgency, declare a state of emergency on the nation’s health sector, citing dilapidated state of health facilities and poor condition of service of health-care givers in government-owned hospitals in the country.
He lamented the insignificant fraction of Nigeria’s budget earmarked for health sector, saying it was far too low to cater for health needs of Nigerians, particularly at this time of pandemic that services of health workers were needed the most, adding that any nation that neglected her health sector was heading to doomsday.
ABG suggested deductions of five percent from every Federal revenue generating agency, channelled into a special funds strictly for the purpose of improving Nigerian health workers and facilities, saying such measures if taken and sustained over a period of time would go a long way to turn the face and fortunes of the nation’s health sector.
He lamented huge resources spent on Political office holders both at Executive and Legislative Arms of Government, suggesting a fifty per cent downsizing of all emoluments and entitlements accrued to all political office holders at both the Executive and Legislative Arms and the deductions channelled to equip and upgrade health facilities in Nigeria so they could offer services obtainable anywhere in the world, adding it would checkmate health tourism by rich Nigerians abroad which he said had negative impacts on the nation’s forex exchange.
While speaking further, he proffered that Civil servants on Grade Level 15 and above, who he said cornered huge sums of money as emoluments and allowances, should also be made to part away with some certain fractions, adding that developing the health sector was for the benefit of such civil servants and their families.
He expressed solidarity with the striking health workers who he described as lives savers, saying no society could survive without health practitioners.
“Our health sector is in shambles and comatose state that a simple health challenge that requires surgery, one has to be flown abroad. It is not good for a nation that thrives to develop and be counted among others with improved and developed economies.
“It’s high time we eschewed paying lip service to a problem that has been with us for too long and face the issue headlong with passion and zeal that could ignite the flame of patriotism in us to contribute our quota towards solving problem.
“We can turn around the miserable state of our hospitals and uplift professional capabilities of our doctors and other health practitioners if we dedicate the needed resources and redirect huge resources spent on our political office holders to upgrade our health sector,” the former Kaduna North Federal Lawmaker explained.
He urged Federal Government to address issues raised by JOHESU , according to him, the Health Workers’ Union made up about 90 percent of the nation’s health sector workforce, a significant number he said could not be neglected by any reasonable Government.
He asked the Federal Government to extend same improved condition of service doctors enjoyed to their counterparts, saying all health workers, including cleaners and messengers were important and complemented one another to have smooth and seamless services in hospitals.