By Dirisu Yakubu
Doctors under the aegis of the Nigerian Medical Association, Wednesday, sent a powerful message to President Muhammadu Buhari to pay them their entitlements or face their wrath.
The doctors maintained that their entitlements, which are captured under the National Health Act of 2014, were non-negotiable and must be paid without any further delay as it was backed by law.
The doctors were on a protest march to the Presidential Village to serve the message on the Presidency when they were halted by armed security personnel at the precincts of the Three-Arms-Zone before they could approach the seat of power.
But undone, the doctors vowed to seek legal action should President Muhammadu Buhari fail to implement the National Health Act in the 2017 budget.
The aggrieved medical personnel also promised to be embarking on a bi-weekly protest walk to the Presidential Villa until their demand is meant.
NMA President, Dr. Mike Ogirima, who led the protest walk as part of the programme lined up to mark this year’s Annual Physicians week in Abuja, lamented that since the National Health Act was signed into law in 2014, the federal government has done nothing to give meaning to it, thereby defeating the purpose of the law.
The act stipulates that one percent of the consolidated revenue of the federation should be channelled to the provision of basic health care.
Ogirima said, “Given the way they have treated us, we are left with no other option than to embark on this protest to draw attention to our situation and to compel Mr. President to do what the law stipulates.
“We shall take the government to court if these laws are not implemented. 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 becomes a big 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 percent consolidated revenue fund as basic health care provision fund has further worsened the travail of the health sector particularly at the grassroots where the greater burden of the health sector 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.”