The NSP President, Taiwo Oyewumi attended the Assembly of Healthcare Professional Association which held in Lagos on Monday 10/03/2014. After several sessions of brainstorming and deliberations, the following press statement was issued after the meeting:
TEXT OF A PRESS BRIEFING OF THE ASSEMBLY OF HEALTHCARE PROFESSIONAL ASSOCIATIONS (AHPA) AND JOHESU ON SOME CONTEMPORARY HEALTH MATTERS ON MONDAY MARCH 10, 2014 AT PHARMACY HOUSE, LAGOS.
It’s our pleasure to welcome you once more to yet another press briefing by the AHPA and JOHESU. In the light of the various unusual developments in the health sector we are compelled draw the attention of the Nigerian public and to warn about the dire consequences of these developments to the industrial stability and harmony in the sector.
1. Representation of the Health Sector in the National Conference
2. Unilateral and irregular changes to the schemes of service of health professionals by the Hon. Minister of Health.
3. Update on National Health Bill 2014
4. Privatization of Public Health Facilities in Nigeria.
5. Review of CONHESS negotiations with Federal Ministry of Health
1. REPRESENTATION OF THE HEALTH SECTOR IN THE NATIONAL CONFERENCE
We commend Mr. President, Dr. Goodluck Ebelle Jonathan for his initiative to provide the platform for Nigerians to discuss and address issues of national concern for the stability and progress of our country. The Nigerian health sector today is bedeviled with acrimony, instability and unprecedented decline unlike other multidisciplinary and multi-
professional sectors such as the building /works sector, the finance and agricultural sector. Whereas, other multi-professional sectors have more than one profession representing them, the health sector has only one profession in the Conference. This is grossly inadequate for a holistic and balanced discuss of issues in the health sector. We call on Mr. President to ensure an equitable representation of the health sector in the Conference. The nominations from the Assembly of Healthcare Professional Associations and the Joint Health Sector Unions have not been reflected among the delegates to be inaugurated by Mr. President.
2. UNILATERAL AND IRREGULAR CHANGES TO THE SCHEMES OF SERVICE OF HEALTHCARE PROFESSIONALS IN NIGERIA BY THE HON. MINISTER OF HEALTH.
The Assembly of Healthcare Professional Associations (AHPA) wishes to inform the general public, the Head of Service of the Federation (HOSF) and the Committee recently set up by the National Council on Establishment (NCE) that the proposed changes to the scheme of service of our members is irregular, self-serving and without the input of our professional Associations and regulatory Councils/Boards as required by due process. It is to be noted that the Hon. Minister is taking this unilateral action to please his colleagues who want to head every imaginable service and function in the health sector. We totally reject the proposed unilaterally changes to our schemes of service. It is noteworthy to mention that the scheme of service for medical laboratory scientists has been a subject of litigation and judicial
pronouncement by the National Industrial Court of Nigeria. The unilateral attempt to surreptitiously amend the scheme is an attempt to flout and disobey the court judgment which has ordered the Federal Ministry of Health to immediately recognise and fully implement the scheme of service. We call on the Head of Service of the Federation to discountenance the memorandum from the Federal Ministry of Health. One of the glaring absurdities in the proposed scheme is the desire of the Health Minister to change the nomenclature of the apex cadre from Director associated with other graduate ranks to Chief. This is totally unacceptable and unjust.
We also observed that even when FMOH has issued a circular on skipping of CONHESS 10, it is not accommodated in the proposed scheme of service by the Federal Ministry of Health.
In a sector that has recorded more than 10 strike actions in the last 4 years and with a propensity towards industrial disharmony, we strongly warn that the office of the HOSF should immediately discard the ill- motivated scheme of service which is nothing more than another of Health Minister’s many plots to make Healthcare Professionals subservient to their medical and dental counterparts.
3. REVIEW OF CONHESS NEGOTIATION WITH FMOH
The AHPA after a painstaking review of events of the last few weeks on the platform of the joint bargaining committee to review the salaries and allowances of healthcare professionals notes with
concern that the process continues to be enmeshed in delay tactics and other avoidable bottlenecks.
It is our strong conviction that if it was possible to negotiate albeit illegally and unlawfully at the highest level of government within some hours and get the Federal Government to circularize the outcome in line with due process in less than 10 days when new salaries were approved for doctors in January 2014, then it appears the Federal Government is playing games with members of JOHESU and AHPA who have displayed maturity and restraint. Members of AHPA have become unduly restive and we wish to alert the Federal Government and the public that we shall no longer be in a position to appeal for calm among our members if by Thursday 13th March,
2014, government fails to address the issues satisfactorily.
4. UPDATE ON NATIONAL HEALTH BILL 2014
The Assembly of Healthcare Professional Associations has consistently called on the National Assembly of the Federal Republic of Nigeria to amend Section 1(1) of the National Health Bill which is still reflected as in the original draft by the Senate recently. The controversial Section 1 (1) establishes a “National Health System which shall define and provide a Framework for setting standards and regulation of health services in Nigeria”. This potentially dangerous section is an attempt by Medical practitioners to duplicate, undermine and usurp the professional regulatory functions of other health professions. It is
important to declare that contrary to the impression created by the Chairman Senate Committee on Health, Senator Ifeanyi Okowa who is a medical doctor that, “as of today the health industry in Nigeria is left largely unregulated, without norms and standards, lacking protection of health users and providers. The NHB is expected to close the gap, providing legal Framework needed in the regulation, development and management of National Health System setting standards and norms in health practice and research”.
The truth is that there are existing legal Framework for setting
standards, regulating and controlling various aspects of health services in Nigeria, such as: pharmacists and pharmacy practice through the Pharmacists’ Council of Nigeria (PCN) law, doctors through the Medical and Dental Practitioners Act; nursing and midwifery through the Nursing and Midwifery Council of Nigeria Act; Physiotherapy through the Physical Therapy and Rehabilitation Board; the Radiographers Registration Board for Radiographers, and Medical laboratory services through the Medical Laboratory Science Council of Nigeria (MLSCN) Act; the Medical Records Registration Board; the Community Health Practitioners Board among others. What is needed is to strengthen and allow these regulatory Agencies to perform their functions without let or hindrance. The National Health Bill is seeking to surreptitiously duplicate and usurp the statutory mandate and functions of these regulatory agencies. This will create conflict and confusion in the health sector.
We strongly enjoin the House of Representatives to conduct a proper public hearing to redress this and other outstanding contentious and obnoxious sections of the bill rather than adopting a concurrence of the flawed version passed by the Senate. This will serve the ultimate professional and public interest. It will also avoid unnecessary conflict that will worsen the disharmony and decline in the health sector.
5. PRIVATIZATION OF PUBLIC HEALTH FACILITIES IN NIGERIA.
It has become necessary to alert the public of the ongoing attempt by some Chief Executives of health institutions working in concert with the Hon. Minister of Health to privatize core health services and facilities in line with the script/agenda of the Nigerian Medical Association. In modern management principles and practice, only ancillary services are outsourced in order to maximize effort, attention and resources on core professional business of an institution. What we are witnessing in the health sector today is a deceptive attempt by medical and dental practitioners to give the false impression that their own services alone constitute the core business of the healthcare industry and institutions. They pretend they can wish away and dispense with other health professional services. Nothing could be farther from the truth, to say the least. This is a clear manifestation of the gross mismanagement of the Nigerian health sector by medical and dental practitioners who have abandoned their clinical and surgical functions and usurped administrative and management duties which they have no training or experience whatsoever to perform. It is a reflection of the grandstanding and posturing by our medical and dental colleagues.
In other climes, professional Health Service Administrators manage and administer healthcare institutions as chief Executive Officers while health professionals concentrate their effort on giving their professional services to patients and clients. This was the practice in the golden era of health care in Nigeria in the 1960s and 1970s. It remains the international best practice as we speak. The Decree 10 of 1985 has led to unprecedented mismanagement, greed and decline in the Nigerian health sector. We call on men and women of good conscience, the public and Government to promptly intervene before it spins out of control.
The AHPA believes in the philosophy of Public Private Partnership in line with due process especially as approved by the respective professional regulatory councils of any affected profession. Any departure from this standard remains an invitation to chaos, deceit and disorderliness which we will stoutly resist.
Gentlemen of the press, we thank you once more for honouring us with your presence. We find it necessary to reiterate that the final opportunity to redress some of our grievances and charter of demands has been shifted till March 13, 2014 when we shall review the issues with the Secretary to the Government of the Federation at a meeting.
After a review of that meeting, our members will be mobilized to champion their liberties through lawful procedures. Thank you.
Olumide Akintayo FPSN, FNIM Alhaji Rufiu Adeniji
President PSN President NANNM
Mr. Taiwo Oyewummi Dr. Mark Okeji
President, NSP President, ARN
Mr. Wole Ajayi Pharm E. C. Okoli FPSN
President HIMAN Secretary, Assembly of
Dr. Godswill C. Okara FAMLSN Comrade Ayuba Wabba mni
President, AMLSN & Chairman Chairman, JOHESU Assembly of Healthcare