Paul Obi in Abuja
The Association of General and Private Medical Practitioners in Nigeria (AGPMPN) yesterday called on the federal government to eliminate or minimise levies and charges on private hospitals, arguing that multiple taxations are draining private healthcare centres, with the heavy cost being incurred by patients.
Speaking at the association’s 38th annual general meeting and scientific conference in Abuja, AGPMPN President, Dr. Frank Odafen, maintained that private hospitals are “constantly under the discomforting burden of multiple taxation, following the drive by states and governments at all levels to increase their internally generated revenues.”
“It should be remembered that private hospitals essentially offer socially service and are not strictly speaking, commercial ventures, because they are patronised by the economically and socially vulnerable who must be attended to in order to save their lives,” Odafen observed.
He said multiple taxes, in addition to resources put into paying competitive worker salaries, maintaining equipment, power and security, increase the medical bills patients have to pay in private hospitals.
“Only universal health coverage via the National Health Insurance Scheme can eliminate or reduce out-of-pocket expenses and provide profitable lives on the enrollee panels of private medical practitioners,” Odafen explained.
The president further stated that association would continue to align itself with the “urgency, unalloyed commitment and political will to universal health coverage.”
Wife of the President, Aisha Buhari also pledged support in widening the coverage of health insurance. Represented by wife of Kebbi state governor, Zainab Bagudu, Buhari said quality health care services remained a cardinal objective of her husband’s administration and required involvement of all stakeholders.
AGPMPN FCT Chairman, Dr. Jeremiah Abutu also called on government “to provide security for medical practitioners called out for emergency work at odd hours, and guarantee private practitioners in need of leasing equipment.
On the essence of the conference, Abutu said: “We are in the tropics, we are in the third world, and communicable diseases are still everywhere. Because of our lifestyle, you discover non-communicable diseases are coming in now.
“But the focus cannot shift from communicable disease now because of our lifestyle, you discover non-communicable diseases are coming in now, but the focus cannot shift from communicable disease now because we have not done anything about them,” he stressed.