Doctors charge states to domesticate FG’s Health Insurance Scheme

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The National Association of Government General Medical and Dental Practitioners on Sunday appealed to governors of the 36 states of the federation to domesticate Federal Government’s health insurance scheme.

Domesticating the health insurance scheme in all states would help to reduce the harsh socioeconomic situation currently being faced by Nigerians, its president, Dr Sofiri Peterside said in Akwanga, Nasarawa State.

He told newsmen at the end of the association’s National Executive Council meeting that federal civil servants and their counterparts in states operating the scheme were benefiting immensely from the scheme.

He decried repeated situations where medical practitioners had had to pay the bills of indigent patients or treat them for free.

Peterside stressed that a universal health insurance scheme for all categories of people would go a long way to address the healthcare needs of Nigerians, especially the vulnerable and the indigent.

He identified brain drain as a challenge bedevilling the healthcare sector as some of the best hands were going away to greener pastures.

He blamed the exodus of medical personnel to other clime on poor welfare packages, insecurity and policy inconsistencies.

He noted that the shortage of doctors was putting too much pressure on the few ones that had decided to stay and work in Nigeria in spite of the poor working conditions.

He said also that while the WHO doctor-patient ratio was one doctor to about 600 people, the ratio in Nigeria is one doctor to more than 20, 000 people.

Dr Peterside also called on the Federal Government to cancel the policy that Directors on Grade Level 17 should proceed on compulsory retirement after serving on the level for eight years.

He argued that the policy was anti-career progression, particularly for medical doctors.

“For instance, medical doctors join government services either on Grade Level 12 or Grade Level 13 after graduation. Few years later the doctor gets to Grade Level 17.

“If the doctor is compelled to proceed on compulsory retirement after serving for eight years, it means his retirement age is around 50 years or 52 years.

“A well-trained medical doctor who has been forced to retire at the age of 50 years or 52 years will prefer to go to other countries that will pay him better.

“He will also work there beyond 60 years of age,’’ Peterside argued.

He also called on governments at all levels to beef up security around medical facilities to guard against incessant kidnap of medical personnel.

Peterside also called for upward review of Hazard and Call Duty allowances of doctors and the upgrading of medical facilities to curtail medical tourism.

“Governments at all levels must implement a new minimum wage without further delay to cushion the effect of the hardship imposed by the removal of fuel subsidy,’’ he charged.

Also addressing newsmen, Dr Thomas Gonji, Nasarawa State chairman of the association said the meeting gave it the opportunity to share experiences and brainstorm on how to move the health sector forward.

The three-day NEC meeting of the association had in attendance delegates from the 36 states of the federation and the FCT.

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