The Medical Association (NMA) has called on President Bola Ahmed Tinubu to allocate at least 15 percent of the annual national budget to the health sector, in line with the Abuja 2001 Declaration. The association believes that increased funding would help curb medical tourism and prevent the loss of valuable financial resources.
In a congratulatory message signed by NMA President Dr Uche Ojinmah and Secretary-General Dr Jide Onyekwelu, the association highlighted the urgency of meeting the target set during the April 2001 meeting of heads of state of African Union countries. Despite 23 years having passed since the commitment was made, Nigeria has yet to fulfill this important pledge.
“The Federal Government should implement the provisions of the National Health Act 2014 in full to set our health sector on sound footing. The Federal Government should ensure that the Basic Healthcare Provision Fund having been rolled out by the preceding administration gets improved appropriation, prompt releases, and institute appropriate measures for accountability and measurable outcomes,” stated the NMA.
“We believe that every life matters, therefore there is a need to have a functional and effective social welfare scheme focusing on providing a safety net (housing, food, basic education) and Universal Health Coverage for alls, especially the disadvantaged or vulnerable groups including pregnant women, children under five years of age, the aged, the extremely poor (persons living on less than $1.90 daily), and the disabled,” the association further added.
The NMA emphasized the value it places on every life and the importance of establishing a functional and effective social welfare scheme. This scheme should aim to provide a safety net that includes housing, food, and basic education, in addition to universal health coverage for all citizens, particularly vulnerable groups such as pregnant women, children under five years of age, the elderly, those living in extreme poverty (earning less than $1.90 daily), and people with disabilities.
“Government at all levels should address social issues affecting health (social determinants of health: these include poverty alleviation, women empowerment and education (particularly girl child education), water and sanitation, infrastructural development, tackling insecurity, employment, and elimination of corruption,” urged the NMA.
Addressing the issue of healthcare workforce, the NMA stressed the need for improved remuneration as a means of addressing the scarcity of skilled workers and stemming the brain drain. They believe that enhanced compensation will help improve the availability of healthcare professionals and mitigate the migration of skilled personnel to other countries.
Additionally, the NMA called for an audit of existing primary health centers to ensure proper equipment and management. They believe that Nigeria, under President Tinubu’s leadership, should strive for a doctor-led primary healthcare system. They argue that a strong primary healthcare system, led by doctors, serves as the gateway to a high-performing and cost-effective health system.
“Nigeria under your leadership should work towards a Doctor-led Primary Health Care because every country with an effective PHC which is the entry point to the performing and cost-effective health system (the gate-keeping point) has achieved a doctor-led PHC,” emphasized the NMA.
The Medical Association’s appeal to President Bola Ahmed Tinubu reflects the pressing need to prioritize health sector financing, implement key healthcare legislation, and address the broader social determinants of health. The association’s recommendations, if implemented, could significantly improve the healthcare landscape and ensure better access to quality healthcare for alls.
By adhering to the Abuja 2001 Declaration and allocating at least 15 percent of the annual national budget to the health sector, Nigeria can work towards reducing the need for medical tourism and retaining financial resources within the country. Moreover, by fully implementing the provisions of the National Health Act of 2014, Nigeria can establish a solid foundation for its healthcare system.