The Nigerian Association of Resident Doctors (NARD) has called for an increase in the annual Health sector budgetary allocation to 15 per cent to reflect the World Health Organisation’s (WHO) prescription.
This was made known in a communique read by Dr Innocent Orji, national president of NARD at the end of the 3-day National Executive Council (NEC) meeting of the association in Uyo, the Akwa Ibom State capital.
The association expressed worry over the level of neglect of an important sector like health by successive governments leading to the migration of professionals abroad in search of greener pastures.
The meeting was held with the theme: “Improved Welfare of Healthcare Workers: A Panacea for Brain Drain (Political and Doctors’ Perspectives).”
Orji said that the 15 per cent annual budgetary allocation would be in line with the 2001 Abuja declaration for healthcare financing in Africa and global best practices.
N1.179 trillion, representing 5.35 per cent, was allocated to the health sector out of the total of N21.8 trillion for the 2023 national budget in Nigeria.
The NARD communique indicated that the association’s National Executive Committee (NEC) also urged the Federal Ministry of Health to expedite action on reversing the ugly trend of brain drain by implementing the “one for one” policy on the replacement of exited doctors and clinical staff.
Part of the communique reads: “The National Executive Council (NEC) welcomes the committee set up by the Federal Government to mitigate the brain drain in the health sector.
“The association urges a speedy conclusion of the task and immediate implementation of their recommendations to improve healthcare service delivery and reduce the emigration of skilled healthcare workers from the country.
“NEC calls for increased funding of the healthcare sector in the country, to the tune of 15 per cent annual budgetary allocation in line with the 2001 Abuja declaration for healthcare financing in Africa and global best practices as well as the digitalisation of the healthcare services to improve the quality of healthcare delivery to Nigerian citizens.”
The resident doctors also urged the Chief Medical Directors of medical centres in tertiary institutions in the country to take responsibility for security as NARD would no longer continue to watch her members being assaulted by staff, patients, relatives or security operatives.
The association equally called on the Inspector General of Police (IGP) to investigate and arrest perpetrators of the illegal shooting of one of its members in Delta and ensure they are adequately punished to serve as a deterrent to others.
“We demand that the affected doctor be adequately compensated for the trauma and the damaged vehicle replaced. The NEC gives IGP two weeks to get this done as we would review the situation at the expiration of the two weeks and our stand would be taken thereafter if the response is not satisfactory,” he said.
The national executive council further called on the National Assembly to make laws protecting the lives and well-being of doctors and healthcare workers as the rate of assaults against its members within and outside the hospitals was alarming.
He however called on the federal government, the Nigerian Governors’ Forum and all stakeholders to prevail on the governors of Abia, Ondo and Ekiti to urgently pay arrears of salaries and allowances owed its members.