Sunday, August 14, 2022

NMA tells Buhari regime to privatise government hospitals

“Or we can go for graded privatisation where they sell 51 per cent of the shares. Of course, they should fix it up a bit so that it could fetch some money.”

• August 1, 2022
National Hospital Abuja
Photo of National Hospital Abuja used to illustrate this story

Uche Ojinmah, national president of the Nigerian Medical Association (NMA) has urged President Muhammadu Buhari’s regime to consider privatising the national hospitals.

Mr Ojinmah stressed it had become necessary for both the teaching and public hospitals to have the needed funds for effective operation.

“As far back as 2014, we wrote a compendium on how to fix these teaching hospitals and public hospitals and there are two options if the government wants to fund it properly. Go for 15 per cent of the national budget for the health sector and also release the budgeted funds because budgeting is different from cash backing,” explained the NMA president.

He added, “So if they can fund it well and release the necessary cash to back it up then these institutions can come up to speed.”

Mr Ojinmah also mentioned that with this, the government could demand accountability, with the other option being privatisation. In this case, he said it could be outright privatisation. 

“Or we can go for graded privatisation where they sell 51 per cent of the shares. Of course they should fix it up a bit so that it could fetch some money. They get a core investor or sell 51 per cent of the shares to the core investor,” the NMA leader suggested. “If the government does not want to leave totally it can keep a certain percentage, maybe 30 per cent so that with that they can still moderate the price so that we don’t go for full gains to the detriment of the people.” 

According to him, the remaining 19 per cent should be sold to the workers to retain the hospital so that they know they have a stake in the business and give it their best.

“So now, having a representative on that board as government will help to moderate the price so that there is that human face which is what a doctor brings to heading a hospital,” stated Mr Ojinmah.

He added that boosting the National Health Insurance Authority (NHIA) would bring more people into the health insurance net and give them better service at reduced costs.

“So if you privatise these hospitals and you channel the money, you would have budgeted for them every year for the next five years into the NHIA to capture more people under that, it will make it easier for them to assess those hospitals,” he pointed out. “With this, it will be easier for the people to get treatment and if you do that and personnel are well paid,  everybody knows you are here to do your job, the major shareholder can decide that he wants to buy automated equipment, you cannot stop him.” 

On how the primary healthcare centres would fare under such privatisation arrangements, the NMA president said it was time to divest the government’s interest in PHCs as running them should be local governments’ concern. 

“If you want me to leave Abuja as a doctor to run a PHC somewhere in the rural area, I think that there should be extra allowance for that,” he said. “It makes simple business sense to say that those going out there should be given a rural posting allowance that is heavy, so that they can attract personnel to the PHCs but the government does not want to do that.” 


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