by Ranti Joseph
The Nigerian Medical Association, NMA, has requsted that presidential aspirants explain their health agenda to Nigerians.
The association expressed worry that few days before the presidential elections, none of the political parties is interested in talking about health care.
While addressing journalists during a press briefing on Wednesday in Abuja, the president of NMA, Kayode Obembe, said doctors have closely watched with mixed feelings the campaigns and documentaries by political parties listing their achievements, manifestos and promises in the months since campaigns took off.
According to him, “It is very disturbing to note that there has not been any precise and articulate pronouncements about the health challenges confronting the health sector and how to tackle them.”
He said among other issues, the health community expects to be part of campaigns is universal health coverage and per head health spending, which he noted, still lags behind figures in countries with programmes comparable to the National Health Insurance Scheme.
“The reason for the stagnation is clearly due to the reluctance of state governors and local government chairmen to embrace the scheme because of the counterpart funding they need to provide in order to access the fund,” he added.
The association stated that political authorities showed little regard for the community-based health insurance which could help poorer Nigerians get basic health cover.
“When politicians and their political parties describe themselves as grass roots based, it leaves one to wonder then if the true meaning of that coinage is not lost on the premise of political razzmatazz,” Obembe noted.
NMA is worried about how state and local governments can provide counterpart funding required by the newly inaugurated National Health Law to ensure poor rural populations and communities get basic health benefit cover stating that local governments, which statutorily administer primary health care, would remain comatose and dysfunctional as long as they joint accounts with states, operated by phantom ministry of local government affairs.
“It is indeed very worrisome how the most important tier of health care delivery, the very foundation of it would be domiciled under the weakest, worst funded, most neglected and in some situations, absent level of governance,” said Obembe. “This is indeed an absurdity.”