Health workers protest exclusion from health reform committee

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The Joint Health Sector Unions (JOHESU) and Assembly of Healthcare Professional Associations (AHPA) has kicked against the exclusion of her members from Nigeria’s Presidential Committee on Health Reform.

According to a letter dated September 9th, 2021 , addressed to President Muhammadu Buhari, the workers called for inclusion of the five unions which comprise about 95 percent of the public health workforce in the country.

The letter which was signed by the acting general secretary on behalf of the chairman, Comrade M .O Ajorutu, said the composition of the committee is unacceptable to health professionals and professionals who are members of JOHESU.

‘Typical of the process involved in the sharing of benefit packages, and resources in the health sector, the reform Committee with over 95% presence of physicians already negates the rights and liberties of the majority of health workers in Nigeria. The committee of this nature have slots for Director General, Federal Competition and Consumer Protection Council but not an agency like NAFDAC which regulates all the drugs, medical devices, equipment, chemicals, e t ¢ which are the essential tools and commodities which drive any credible heath system.

“We observe with consternation that the Unions in the health sector are not included in the committee. The inclusion of National Association of Nigeria Nurses and Midwives (NANNM) is professional association representation. What is the significance of this reform process if it does not bequeath a legacy of equity to health workers who remain the human resource to reckon with in this reform bid?

“It is unthinkable that a strategic arm of the health sector like JOHESU is ignored in this reform committee. The JOHESU affiliated registered trade unions are: Medical and Health Workers’ Union of Nigeria (MHWUN) , National Association of Nigeria Nurses and Midwives (NANNM), Nigerian Union of Allied Health Professionals (NUAHP),Senior Staff Association of Universities, Teaching Hospitals, Research and other Associated Institutions (SSAUTHRIAT) and Non-Academic Staff Union of Universities and Associated Institutions (NASU),” the letter read.

JOHESU further noted with reservation, the inclusion of the Director General, Bureau of Public Enterprise (BPE), adding that this is sending a signal that the federal government was preparing grounds for the privatisation of public health institutions.

“JOHESU urges Your Excellency to be wary of any vested interest push for such privatisation that is capable of undermining yob security and possible job losses in the health sector. This will portend great danger to the quality, affordability and accessibility of health care services in Nigeria. Lt is also going to constitute a social-economic threat to the already huge population of unemployed citizens.

“While commending Your Excellency for this landmark and historic intervention, JOHESU noted with great concern the skewed nature of the composition of the committee. JOHESU urge Your Excellency to include the representatives of the five registered health sector unions affiliated to it and remaining health professional associations in the spirit of equitable and fair stakeholders’ representations,” they wrote.

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