The Nigerian Medical Association, (NMA) has urged federal government to fully operationalize the National Health Act, 2014 which made provision among others the pooling of not less than 1 percent of consolidated revenue as Basic Health Provision Fund (BHPF) to cater for their vulnerables.
Mike Ozovehe Ogirima, a professor of Orthopaedics and the NMA National President, made the call on Monday in Ilorin at a press confernce to mark the 2017 Physician weeks with theme: “Declining Immunisation Coverage: Threat to National Development and Security, Way Forward”.
Ogirima who expressed dissatisfaction over the declining immunisation coverage in the country, pointed out that over 40 percent of children under five years of age are vulnerable and stand the risk of being infected by different diseases.
According to him, Immunisation and vaccination have remained two of the most important public health interventions world over, thereby constituting a cost effective strategy to reducing both the morbidity and mortality associated with infectious diseases especially in children.
“The 2016/17 National immunisation coverage survey indicates that only 33 percent of children 12-23 months of age had three doses of pentavalent vaccines against the global target of 90 percent and only 23 percent were fully immunized. 40 percent do not receive any vaccines from the health system.
“The implication of this is that a large population of our children particularly under five years of age are unprotected band are therefore at the risk of dying from vaccine preventable diseases such as measles, diphtheria, pertusis, tuberculosis among others as well as infectious risk to other children on near and distant places,” said Ogirima
Ogirima, however lamented that Nigeria is not up to the task, regretted the recent world health report which ranked Nigeria third among the nations with high mortality rates ‘‘was a bad one’’ for the country. Saying, “The ongoing rehabilitation of our Primary Health Cantres (PHC) is slow, we are using obsolete equipment. We therefore call on government at all levels to channel more fund to child health particularly routine immunisation activities.
“There is need for improved training centrers and medical services. Government should intensify their effort on moribund PHCs and re-position them to deliver on their minimum service package, thereby improving immunisation coverage across the country.”
The NMA boss encouraged all professional associations, civil society organizations, men and women of goodwill in the country to join the association in the clarion call to ensure our children are well protected to grow to their full potentials and contribute meaningfully to the economic development of our great country in years to come.
Describing the new policy of the federal government banning medical doctors in public health institutions from engaging in private practices during working hours as illegal, Ogirima said: ‘‘the attempt to stop private practice by doctors working in public health institution is against the law of the land. NMA frowns at our members who use the working hours to attend to their private clinics/hospitals.
Government should enforce the law by reconstituting the Medical and Dental Council of Nigeria MDCN. They must not dissolve the MDCN without immediate reconstruction, we want it in perpetuity. NMA will work in tandem with the government to discipline erring members subjecting them to MDCN’s disciplinary tribunal which has since being in limbo because of lack of MDCN’’.
Doctors in Nigeria according to him were working below the World Health Organisation (WHO)’s standard which prescribed a ratio of one doctor (1: 600) patients as against one doctor to over to over 200, 000 (1: over 200,000) patients obtainable in Nigeria.
He said: ‘‘By law, doctors are supposed to work for only 40 units, we have doctors working for up to 80 units, if you want me to work more than 40 units, pay me for more than 40 units. So if you want to enforce it, maybe we should start from there’’.
SIKIRAT SHEHU, Ilorin