By George Odok
The Nigerian Medical Association (NMA) have called on the federal and state governments to increase the funding of healthcare in the country.
Dr Kofi Ikpeme, a Fellow of Royal College of Surgeon and past Chairman of NMA in Cross River, made the call on Saturday during the NMA South South Zonal Meeting in Calabar.
Ikpeme said that the Nigerian health sector had continued to decline due to poor budgetary allocation, adding that this affected healthcare provision to citizens.
He said that the national budget for the health sector in Nigeria had been fluctuating between 5 per cent and 8 per cent over the years, adding that the percentage was low.
According to him, the World Health Organisation Conference has recommended and approved 21 per cent allocation of a country’s national budget to the health sector.
He urged medical doctors who may find themselves in leadership positions to use the opportunity to lobby the government to improve on the funding of the healthcare sector in Nigeria.
“The state of our general and teaching hospitals is deteriorating by the day.
“The federal and state governments have failed to improve on our budget for the health sector.
“Nigeria’s national budget now fluctuates between 5 and 8 per cent and this allocation is not good enough because it cannot meet the healthcare needs of millions of Nigerians.
“The Federal Government should follow the WHO Geneva conference by allocating 21 per cent of its national budget to the health sector,’’ he said.
Earlier, Dr Agam Ayuk, Chairman of NMA, South South Zone, said that the meeting was organised to appraise the level of healthcare delivery by medical practitioners in the South South.
Ayuk said that the health sector had a lot of financial gaps and untapped financial potentials which was the norm in other countries.
“We are using this meeting to look at the health issues in the South South; which involves healthcare delivery, universal health coverage and the practice condition of our doctors and how we can bring out solutions.
“For us, this is an important event and we hope that the resolution of the meeting will be used to better the health of the South South people,’’ he said.
He commended Gov. Ben Ayade of Cross River for passing into law the State Health Insurance bill and urged him to institute the take-off grant for the scheme.
Dr Inyang Asibong, the State Commissioner for Health, said that the State Health Insurance Scheme was designed to offer affordable healthcare service to all the people of Cross River.