NLC President, Abdulwaheed Omar
Organised labour in the nation’s health sector have rejected the N279.23 billion budgetary allocation to the sector for the year 2013 fiscal year, stating that the amount, which represents 6 per cent of the total budget, was grossly inadequate.
Speaking under the umbrella of Medical and Health Workers Union of Nigeria (MHWUN), the union said the amount was a far cry from the resolution of African leaders that budgetary commitments of countries on the continent for health should be a minimum of 15 per cent if there is to be any hope for the mass of the population to access quality health.
In a communiqué issued at the end of its National Executive Council (NEC) meeting held in Abuja, the union called for a scaling-up of the provision for health in the proposed budget to a minimum of 15 per cent, noting that quite a number of countries have already implemented the African leaders declaration.
The Council, which welcomed the early presentation of the 2013 budget, further called on the National Assembly to consider a review of allocation to the sector in the budget proposal presented by President Goodluck Jonathan.
“The early presentation of the 2013 budget proposal is a welcome development even though this presents some challenges such as harmonising its commencement point since the 2012 budget is supposed to end by March 2013. The council was however much more bothered by the provision for health in the budget, which is grossly inadequate at barely 6 per cent.
“This is a far cry from resolution of African leaders as stated in the 2001 Abuja declaration to the effect that budgetary commitments of countries on the continent for health have to be a minimum of 15 per cent if there is to be any hope for the mass of the population to access quality health,” the union stated.
The meeting also expressed concern over the ravaging floods which has spread across two thirds of the states of the federation and resulted in the displaced a large number of the population.
The council which maintained that this cannot be regard as a “natural disaster” based on earlier forecasts lamented that if pro-active steps had been taken on time, the catastrophic impact of the floods could have been avoided.
It particularly expressed worry over the health and general wellbeing of Nigerians who have been endangered despite the efforts by government at ameliorating the impact of the disaster.
The council called on trade unions, civil society organisations and community-based associations to be fully involved in the structures and processes through which the intended respite by government would made available, to ensure that those who really need relief materials are the real beneficiaries.
The council raised the alarm over the deteriorating state of healthcare infrastructures in the country stating that billions of naira are lost yearly, through incessant patronage of foreign medical healthcare institutions. It therefore, called on all tiers of government to, as a matter of urgency revamp health infrastructures in the country, to engender efficient healthcare delivery services.
It noted that efforts at resolving the global economic crisis based on austerity measures and cut in jobs would only worsen the situation for the working people and demanded economic recovery based on the global job pact.