Nigerians have called on the Federal and state Governments to confront corruption in the Nigeria’s health sector with every seriousness due to its importance to human existence.
The demand was made by resource persons and participants Wednesday in Abuja, during a radio program, PUBLIC CONSCIENCE produced by the Progressive Impact Organization for Community Development, PRIMORG.
The program focused on the reports of kickbacks and deals by some medical practitioners in the referrals of patients for diagnosis and treatments.
A Journalist, Chika Mefor Nwachukwu and James Atabo of E-Hub, both led the call for reform of the health sector which they said is submerged in corruption.
While frowning at an extensive report by Premium Times on how Nigerian doctors, hospitals, diagnostic centres defraud patients through coordinated kickbacks for referrals scheme, they narrated how the same scheme has ripped them off in the past.
Nwachukwu said the Federal Government must show seriousness in equipping health infrastructures in the country, especially primary health care centres.
She identified lack of exposure and desperation of patients as major reasons medical practitioners and diagnostic centres shortchange them. Nwanchukwu added that the illiteracy gap between patients and medical practitioners is really wide, while urging Nigerians to know and stand on their rights when it comes to issues of their health.
She said that corruption in the health sector has dealt a big blow on Nigerians at all strata. Narrating an ugly experience at an Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) camp in Abuja, where pregnant women in the camp are left to deliver their babies without medical assistance.
On his Part, James Atabo stated that remuneration is the major problem in the nation’s health sector and why some doctors have placed money above humanity. He said the poor wage is also responsible for the mass exodus of doctors and other medical personnel in the country.
His word: “If I am under-paid, I will look for a well-paid job. An emergency patient runs to the hospital at the point of death, doctors tell you we need police report or make payment.”
Atabo, however, called for a massive cut in the cost of governance which should be reinvested in the health sector. He also called on President Muhammadu Buhari-led administration to do all in his power to grind corruption to a halt.
In his recommendation, he said: “Let’s have a structure of private and government hospitals running almost at the same level. Those at the helms of affairs of the Nigeria Medical association and Ministry of Health that are responsible for the implementation of budget, and those found wanting on corruption cases should be imprisoned for life,” Atabo said.
Many participants who called into the program also reeled out their frustration in the health sector, while calling on the Federal Government to make health care of Nigerians the top most priority.