Paul Obi in Abuja
The Nigerian Medical Association (NMA) wednesday said it would soon head to court over the inability of President Muhammadu Buhari’s administration to implement the National Health Act since its inception.
The association also pledged to join the wave of protest that has engulfed the country in this week.
The doctors who took to the streets of Abuja metropolis carried out a protest walk to the seat of government, Aso Rock to protest the none implementation of the National Health Act.
Though they were not allowed to go beyond the main entrance of the Three arm zone, the doctors vow to pursue legal action should President Buhari fails to implement the National Health Act in the 2017 budget.
The doctors who were stopped by a team of security personnel attached to the Aso Rock gate also told journalists that NMA will commence bi-weekly protest walk to the seat of power until their demand is meant.
NMA President, Prof. Mike Ogirima who led the protest walk as part of the programme lined up to mark this year’s Annual Physicians week in Abuja explained that “the National Health Act was signed into law in 2014 and since then, the government has failed to implement the law, which provides that not less than one per cent from the consolidated revenue fund be set aside for basic health care provision funds.
Ogirima explained that given the situation of things, the union is left with no other choice than to seek legal action, as the issue at hand is a constitutional issue and so can compel the president to do what he ought to do constitutionally.
“This is not an all clinician affair, all health workers contributed to the enactmtnt of that law during the formation time, we are the leaders, we are the custodians of the health of the people, we have taken the lead and we are sure that other health workers will follow suite.
“There are so many things we’ll do this is advocacy, courtesy calls shall also be implemented, we shall not sleep, in two weeks time, you shall hear from us again. Government shall be taken to court by the Nigerian doctors, if these laws are not implemented,” he said.
Ogirima observed that the non-implementation has adversely affected the well being of the common man in the society.
The NMA President further held that the implementation of the Health Act is key to achieving Universal Health Coverage in Nigeria.
He said: “You will agree with me that at a time like this when money is difficult to come by, out of pocket expenditure for health services by individuals at the point of service become a great challenge. Unfortunately, over 70% of health care expenditure in this country is borne out of pocket.
“Non implementation of the National Health Act, 2024, which provides for not less than one per cent consolidated revenue fund as basic health care provision fund has further worsen the travail of the health sector particularly at the grassroots, where the greater burden of the health disease resides. It has also added to the financial burden of the citizens in their quest to seek quality health care which in most cases is non-existent.”