A passionate appeal has gone to the Federal Government to mandate financial institutions to give loan at single digit interest rate to healthcare practitioners as part of efforts to save the health sector from total collapse.
Guild of Medical Directors, GMD, which made the appeal in Lagos, is also seeking sanction against government officials, agencies and parastatals that use public funds on medical treatment overseas.
The guild posited that the proposed crash in interest rate, similar to what the government has done in the aviation and agricultural sectors, is necessary for the upgrade of private health institution, achievement of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) and saving the sector from its current free fall.
GMD National Chairman, Dr. Charles Cudjoe, who spoke at the guild’s 19th National Annual General Meeting tagged: ”Business of Private and Public Health Care in Nigeria” lamented the poor state of healthcare in the country, regretting that life expectancy of Nigerians that has dropped from 65 to 45 years should be a cause of concern to Nigerians.
Cudjoe also alerted government at all levels on what he described as “a second wave of brain drain” of Nigerian medical doctors due to the fact that many private clinics, hospitals and medical centres have closed down as a result of financial insolvency and bankruptcy.
Stating that this year’s meeting was designed to attempt to tackle the cost component of the challenges in healthcare, he pointed out that efforts by their members to secure single digit interest rate on loans for investment in the health sector from financial institutions has repeatedly met brick walls.
Chairman of the occasion, Sir Steve Omojafor, who noted that the only way to bring about the needed change in the health sector was by sanctioning Nigerians who use public funds for medical treatment abroad, said: “If government is to build confidence on its citizens on the state of its health facilities, irrespective of the illness, all government functionaries must receive medical care locally.”
Chairman, Lagos State GMD, Dr. Toyin Oredugba, said the guild planned to send a high-powered delegation to the Presidency to make a case for single digit interest rate for health sector.
In a keynote address, Minister for Trade & Tourism, Mr. Olusegun Aganga, spoke on the multiplier-effects of synergic efforts in private health sector, noting that even if loans were secured at zero per cent interest rate, it would not make healthcare cheap.