We’ve underfunded health sector
By Olayinka Ajayi
The Joint Health Sector Union, JOHESU, has blamed President Muhammadu Buhari’s led administration for not meeting up with the African Union 15 per cent benchmark budget for the health sector.
The Health Union insisted that the government lacks the will power to activate and implement several agreements reached to better the nation’s health sector.
Speaking in a monitored programme ‘Sunrise Daily’ on Channels Television yesterday, the National Vice Chairman of the Union, Dr. Ogbona Obinna said: “The essence of strike is to call the attention of the government to a prevailing situation. Before now, we had certain ultimatums, served the government, and at the real hours of the ultimatum, you now see the government inviting us.
“… the problem of these unending dialogue is that after you have reached a compromise, that you have distilled the discussion into Memorandum of Action or Agreement,MOA, you still find out that the will power to reach those agreements are not there! For instance on the 30th of September 2017, we had a 16 points demand that agreement were reached.
And some of the agreements had timelines, some of them ought to have been activated and executed within five weeks, some two weeks but to our surprise, after those timelines, the government did not do anything about it. We waited for about one year, nothing was done.
He added: “In 2018, we had to begin another strike in the month of April to May, nothing tangible was done, instead we were visited by the no work no pay rule, we were taken to court. The judge at the national industrial court of Nigeria, sent a consent judgement. From then till now, none of the consent judgement had been implemented. In 2020, Covid-19 issue came up and everybody remained calm, around September 2020, we also served the government another ultimatum, which also expired and we had to go for a seven day warning strike.
“The government did not even bother to invite us for any dialogue to address the situation. It was on the 21th of July 2021 that the Federal ministry of health invited us to a meeting with the same old story that they are working, but we cannot see any visible action. The rate of entropy (i.e. disorderliness) is high and the enthalpy (i.e. change in heat) and the government should be held responsible because they did not enter into the agreement in duress.
“We are not strike mongers, one of the problems we have in the health sector is under funding. Just imagine the highest budget in the health sector is about 6.2 per cent in 2012. in 2019, it was about 4.4 per cent. Even with the advent of Covid – 19, it was about 4.45 per cent as against the AU benchmark of 15 per cent. Go to South-Africa, there budgetary allocation is 12 percent. This 4.4 percent that is rolled out from the budgetary of 30 trillion, is a reflection of 547billion and when you divide it by 200 million, it translates to about N247 per month for an average Nigerian to seek health.”