Kaduna bombing: NMA tasks FG, IGP on funding, gunshot victims, other medical issues

The Nigeria Medical Association (NMA) has called on the federal government to compensate victims of Tudun Biri bombing in Igabi Local Government Area of Kaduna state on December 4, 2023 which the military admitted was caused by an accidental bombing targeting insurgents and bandits.

Addressing journalists Sunday night in Abuja, the National President of NMA, Dr Uche Rowland Ojinmah, alongside executive members of the association, said the call was part of the resolutions reached at the end of the association’s National Executive Council (NEC) meeting in Abuja, from December 10 to 17.

He said the association commiserates with Kaduna state government and the federation, commending the military for accepting responsibility and offering apology.

However, Ojinmah called on the federal government to adequately compensate the victims and foot the bill of those in hospitals, advising the military to improve the precision of their intelligent reports to avert a recurrence of the incident.

He advised the federal government to quickly stem the tide of the Naira, which he said has negatively affected the price of medications and led to more suffering of Nigerians.

He said this has become more imperative to make access to Universal Health Coverage (UHC) for all and sundry to reduce out of pocket expenditure for healthcare, and that this is the time for governments at all levels to think towards UHC to help the people.

Ojinmah also spoke on the directive by the government for all cases of medical emergencies to be treated by doctors in private and public hospitals, questioning who pays the bill for the emergency cases, especially for private hospitals.

He said private hospitals are purposely opened for business, stating that where things are done properly, the government should have UHC whereby insurance could take care of these emergency cases.

Ojinmah queried why the National Health Act 2014, which was passed and signed since 2014, and provided that one per cent from the first line charge should be set aside partly to fund the Basic Health Care, was yet to be implemented.

He said: “The basic healthcare fund is supposed to take care of the first 48 to 72 hours of emergency for every Nigerian. This has not been implemented till today. So, if you asked private practitioners to treat people free, he won’t do that. These are issues that should be untangled before we start issuing directive.

“Every private hospital is open for business. Some are even running on loan, so let’s stop paying lip service to emergency healthcare and do the right thing.”

Ojinmah also spoke on the directive by the Inspector General of Police (IGP) for treatment of gunshot injury patients without police reports for a certain period of time, saying that doctors are ready to comply, but called on the IGP to sound it to other police officers to also comply with his directive.

He called on the IGP to warn other police officers over what he described as unnecessary harassment l on these emergency cases, lamenting “if somebody goes in for a laboratory or a brain surgery, following gunshot injury, sometimes, such an operation usually takes six hours or more and then the police will lay siege on you, arrest and embarrass you in the name of emergency.”

He said the police must do their best by respecting the order from IGP, adding that the Nigeria doctors are ready to take care of Nigerians.

Ojinmah noted the progressive exit of international pharmaceutical companies and other companies from Nigeria, stressing the situation has become worrisome for NMA.

He said such to the situation portends danger for the future of Nigeria’s healthcare and economy, calling on the government to improve on the ease of doing business in the country and quickly stabilize the economy so that companies will stay.

The NMA President said the price of ordinary Augmentin, an antibiotic drug, is now beyond the common man, lamenting that some drugs are now worth the monthly salary of some people, and that there is no way people can survive in this kind of situation.

He noted the oppression medical students at Alex Ekwueme Federal University, Ndufu-Alike Ikwo (AE-FUNAI) in Ebonyi State and Ambrose Alli University, Ekpoma in Edo State, are passing through.

He alleged authorities in the two institutions have given out orders that are contrary to training standards, adding that you can’t force a man to study another course, when he came in to read medicine, due to lack of accreditation.

He said forcing someone to study Physiology, while paying school fees of medical students, is unacceptable, calling on the FG to investigate the type of school fees they are putting on students at Alex Ekwueme University.

He also called on journalists to beam their searchlight on the aforementioned institutions to find out what is going on, revealing that NMA is watching the institutions closely.

The NMA President called on the authorities of the aforementioned schools to reverse all the draconian policies they put on students or face the wrath of all medical doctors in Nigeria.

He gave the federal government till the end of January, 2024, to implement the upward review of Consolidated Medical Salary Structure and to also implement the newly approved accruement allowance with arrears from June, 2023.

Ojinmah said the NMA cannot guarantee industrial harmony in the health sector if its demands, particularly on welfare, are not met, adding that the association had been patient enough.

He said the association does not even have a clear direction about when all the allowances will be implemented, despite being approved since July 1, 2023, adding that “we cannot be talking of brain drain and the little the country could do to assuage it, the government is not doing that.”

He called on the federal government to quickly do the little it intends to do for the doctors, stressing that doctors are rendering great sacrifice, appreciating those who supported the association during the just concluded NEC meeting in Abuja.