NLC kicks against concession of 22 Teaching Hospitals

THE Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) has rejected the move by the Federal Government to concession the 22 federal teaching hospitals in the country, warning that the move would take healthcare beyond the reach of Nigerians

The President of NLC, Comrade Ayuba Wabba, who was speaking Thursday at the opening ceremony of the 2019 Federal Capital Territory (FCT) Nurses Week/Scientific workshop, in Abuja, stated that such policy will lead to exorbitant cost of medical treatment beyond the capacity of the majority of Nigerians.

Rather than outright concessioning the existing teaching hospitals to private owners, Wabba said the government should invite the private sector to invest and establish new hospitals.

He said the government should instead encourage the private sector to build new Medical infrastructures and not to take over the existing public hospitals.

The Infrastructure Concession, Regulatory Commission (ICRC) recently recommended the concessioning of the 22 Teaching Hospitals, and the previous attempt to privatise the National Truama Centre in Gwagwalada, Abuja was thwarted by the health workers union.

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Com Wabba said the workers are presently, being challenged by a lot of policies that may not actually deliver quality health services, adding that one of such policies is the recent decision by the Infrastructure Concession and Regulatory Commission (ICRC).

The NLC President said the ICRC has granted the Federal Ministry of Health the nod to concession 22 tertiary health institutions, but he declared that this is unacceptable

He acknowledged the roles of nurses in the healthcare system, adding, “for us to attain universal health coverage, certainly nurses who are the backbone of the preventive and curative medical services must be given the place in policy development.”

He reminded President Muhammadu Buhari of his promise to Nigerians, saying that, at the inception of the present administration and despite the fact that there were proponents of privatisation of healthcare, the President came out openly that he was against the privatisation of healthcare in the country.

“But you can see that whereas they cannot pass through the door as the door is locked, they are coming through the backdoor that is unacceptable,” he said.

Wabba further said that there are three major roles of the teaching hospitals which are; teaching, research and then the provision of tertiary health services.

He said: “If you privatise or concession the tertiary health institutions, what do you hope to achieve? Because the two important components of research and teaching will certainly suffer. Health should not be for profit. Even in the developed world, healthcare still occupies topmost priority.”

The National President of Medical and Health Workers Union of Nigeria (MHWUN), Comrade Biobelemoye Josiah, stated that for healthcare services to remain affordable for the poor, the government must retain its stake in public-owned hospitals and not privatise them.

He described as a fraudulent attempt by some persons to railroad the Federal Government into accepting to concession the teaching hospitals under the guise that it would to a better health sector.

He said that members of the unions in the health sector will begin consultations with a view to forging a common front to oppose the concession plan.

The FCT Chairman of Nurses Association, Comrade, Deborah Ysufu lamented the poor state of funding and facilities in most of the public hospitals in the capital city.

Comrade Yusuf called on the government to urgently release funds clear the arrears of salaries and allowance owed health workers.

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