The Nigerian Medical Association (NMA) has called on the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) to modify the conditions for accessing the N100 billion Health Intervention Loan.
The association made the call in a communiqué issued at the end of its National Executive Council (NEC) meeting held at Awka, Anambra State, and made available to journalists on Tuesday in Abuja.
Innocent Ujah, NMA president, said that the appeal became necessary given the current state of the nation’s health sector as revealed by the COVID-19 pandemic.
He said that the association was saddened by the mounting difficulties faced by its members, especially those in private health organisations, in accessing the CBN health intervention funds, contrary to expectations.
Ujah called on President Muhammadu Buhari, stakeholders in the financial sector and the people, to prevail on the apex bank to soften and modify the conditions for accessing the loan.
“As we talk, I am not aware of any doctor that has accessed the fund, even when they have met all the stringent conditions,
“We are appealing to government to prevail on the CBN to ensure that this money is released otherwise it makes no sense’, he added.’
Ujah said that the association planned to visit the CBN governor, Godwin Emefule, to present their case on the inaccessibility of the funds to their members.
“We all know that we have worsening health situation in Nigeria as exposed by COVID-19 and if there is an intervention fund, it ought not to have been delayed so long the conditions are met.’’
He said that the council also resolved that governments at all levels, in collaboration with the private sector, should prioritize health sector funding through supplementary appropriation/ budgetary provisions.
Ujah said this needed to be done to ensure the procurement and availability of consumables for effective response to the containment of COVID-19, especially with the current upsurge in the infection.
“We also wish to advise Government to procure the vaccines that have been reported to be effective for further research study on Nigerians to confirm their efficacy and safety for the Nigerian populace.’’
The NMA president said the association also resolved to call on government to deliberately and strategically work towards ensuring the return of Nigerian Doctors and other health professionals in the diaspora, to contribute their quota to the improvement of health care delivery services in the country.
Ujah urged privileged Nigerians to demonstrate confidence in the nation’s health care delivery system and show patriotism by patronising the services.
“We also call for the establishment of the National Health Bank, to fast-track the infrastructure, procurement of state-of-the-art equipment with which to provide world-class health care for Nigerians, in order to reverse medical Tourism.
“We also resolved to continue to strategically engage appropriate quarters to achieve the implementation of the extension of retirement age for medical and dental practitioners in Nigeria to 65 years”, the NMA president said.
On the second wave of COVID-19, Ujah, appealed to Nigerians not to embark on non-essential travels, especially during this yuletide season and beyond.
He said that the NMA had noted the commencement of the second wave of the COVID-19 pandemic amidst flagrant disregard for the non-pharmaceutical prevention protocols and waning efforts at containment of the pandemic.
Ujah lamented that some Nigerians were not complying with the COVID-19 safety protocols, just as several others remained in denial of the existence of COVID-19.
He urged the National Orientation Agency to step up its sensitisation of Nigerians in various languages and even using town criers.
“The strict adherence to the NCDC Protocol of use of face mask, regular handwashing and use of sanitizers and social as well as Physical distancing is very strongly advocated.’’
The theme of the five day meeting, held between Dec. 8 and Dec. 12 was “Medical Doctors, Politics and Leadership in the Society” with the sub-theme, “Managing Mental Health in a COVID-19 Depressed Economy ’’. (NAN)