Health workers to FG: Scrap plan to concession, privatize federal health

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One of the most pressing issues in the Nigerian health sector in 2019 is the concessions and privatization of the major Federal Health Institutions in the country.

The development has elicited concerns among stakeholders in the industry and as  2019  draws to a close, health workers under the aegis of the  Joint Health Sector Unions and Assembly of Healthcare Professional Associations, JOHESU/AHPA, called for the scrapping of the concession plan.

In an open letter to  President Mohammadu Buhari, JOHESU/AHPA –  an amalgamation of five registered trade unions and registered professional associations in the health sector – together accounting for over 95 percent of the workforce in the health sector of the economy,  say commissioning is against the interest of Nigerians.

The letter jointly signed by Comrade Bio Joy Josiah, Chairman, JOHESU, and Pharm Olumide Akintayo, Executive Member, AHPA, urged the President to wade into the controversial initiative and save the health sector from what they described as imminent doom.

The health workers said: “Privatisation symbolizes a total sale or transfer of the public or government assets to private investors or company with a sole motive of making a profit (profiteers).

“This way, government enterprises, and ownership are transferred to individuals/profiteers while government plays only the role of a regulator. This model of PPP is the norm in the corrupt laden governance architecture of developing countries including Nigeria.

In its appeal, JOHESU/AHPA wants the Federal government to be decisive in taking a position and stopping what it describes as the desperate attempts to take over the Federal Health Institutions.

“The tragedy of the ICRC approval of the concessioning of 22 Federal Health Institutions is one of the negative fall-outs of the Economic Team of the Federal government between 2015 and 2019.

“Any attempt to concession facilities in public health institutions compromises the lives of the vast majority of Nigerians and compounds their existing woes.

As a matter of fact, concessions, privatization or mutilated PPP agenda at this point in the evolution of health endeavor in Nigeria is a direct invitation to morbidity and mortality.

“The only option that works in the maximum interest of Nigerians at this time is to allow healthcare to remain a social welfare service to consumers of health.”

Urging the Federal Government to immediately stop the concessioning of Teaching Hospital facilities to private concerns, JOHESU/AHPA harped on the direct consequences of concessions, privatization, and outsourcing would reverse gains in the healthcare space.

“In the proposed privatization and concession models, the government role is largely regulatory which is at the same cost of owning the FHIs. As stronger institutions outlive the weaker ones which further limits the availability and choices of the citizens, the monopolistic tendencies of formidable profiteers play out at the detriment of consumers of health.

“Concessions and Privatisation call to question the integrity of the management of the FHIs dominated by Doctors since the advent of the Teaching Hospital Act of 1985. It is the biggest confirmation of the failure of doctors in the running of the public hospital system in Nigeria.

“Government, therefore, needs to tinker with the health system by reverting management of FHIs to professionally trained administrators and managers, while health professionals are allowed to embrace their areas of due competence in the public good.

This is the trend which is in alignment with global best practices.” JOHESU/AHPA explained that generally, privatization of health services is a precursor to the increased cost of drugs and diagnostic services which will naturally impact on out-of-pocket costs, leading to hardship and more stress junctures in accessing healthcare.

“The concessions/privatization of health facilities is a hurricane that compounds unproductivity in healthcare. The preponderance of Nigerians who live in poverty and squalor will not be able to access or afford health and its major components which include the use of safe and efficacious drugs in the event of this dreaded reality.”

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