Pastor Peters Omoragbon, President and Chief Executive Officer, Nurses Across the Borders, has called on the government to increase the budgetary allocation to the health sector in Nigeria.
Omoragbon who made the suggestion while answering question in an exclusive interview with Lagos Talks 91.3 FM on Monday, May 15, 2023, stated that such allocation was one sure way to have effective and efficient healthcare service delivery in the country.
He maintained that with such budgetary allocation two years is enough to radically address the abysmal condition of the healthcare delivery in Nigeria. He said “If the government of Nigeria is serious with the right budgetary allocation, two years is enough to put the entire healthcare system in Nigeria in perfect working condition to the level of what is obtainable in the United Kingdom, America and Canada, where Nigerians run to for practice and the elite travel for medical tourism.”
Omoragbon who is also the First Nigerian Designated Contact Person to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change asserted that health is such an important sector that it should be given priority attention just like security “If health gets the same amount of money that is allocated to security, I said this because health is our security, in two years all the federal health institutions can be upgraded to the international standard, because all you need to do is to award the contract, the funding is there, and then invite experts outside the country to carry out these functions.”
Omoragbon also decried the absence of inter-disciplinary teamwork in the healthcare delivery system in Nigeria “There is absence of inter-disciplinary teamwork. “It is supposed to be team approach, that means every member of the MD Team, (multi-disciplinary team) should work together, their functions are interwoven, but in Nigeria what you have is what you call the master-servant relationship where a particular professional group assumes the right, that is they have to control other professionals within the system, that is not good, they should begin to treat themselves with respect, because professionals are equal, there is nothing like one professional is higher than another, they should allow each professional group to regulate and develop programmes and policies for the practice of those professions so that there would be peace.
“I give you an example, do you know as at today in Nigeria, there is no director of nursing services at the federal ministry of health, meaning that every profession supposed to have a directorate. The professionals supposed to regulate their own practice, so that they report only to the minister for health. But in the Federal ministry of health, as at today, you see nurses still have to report to another director who is not a nurse, before he has to now report to the permanent secretary, and then the minster. So in essence, if the nurses come with a policy that will enhance the professionalism of nursing in Nigeria it has to be approved by other directors who are not even in the profession, then before it goes to the minster. So these are deliberate policies that are created to stunt the growth of other professionals within the healthcare industry. I use the word deliberate because this same professional group, they are in charge, there are about eight directorates in the federal ministry of health, and the whole directorates are headed by medical doctors.
“There has been series of strikes within the health sector, why because the cooperation and collaboration is not there, the various healthcare professionals are not allowed to function independently. A situation another professional group dictates the salary of other professional groups within the health sector, it doesn’t work. Let those who wear the shoes, who knows where it pinches, let them be the ones to work out their salary, let them negotiate. You cannot negotiate on their behalf because you cannot shelve a man’s hair in his absence, according to MKO Abiola of blessed memory.”
He urged government to do a research on why Nigerian healthcare professionals are leaving the country in droves in order to find permanent solution to the malady.
He also spoke on the probable reason some healthcare professionals appear to be antagonistic to patients while on duty. “In every profession you have the good, the bad and the ugly. And so there is no single profession worldwide where you cannot have one or two isolated cases of people who do not work in tandem with the rules of the profession. It is not all doctors, it is not all nurses that are involved in this. Another area you have to look into why this could be so is the fact that, yes, it depends on the structure, some people may be working under severe pressure, a situation whereby you have 20 patients and you have one nurse on duty, of course, such a nurse would at a point snap, because of the pressure of work, the job six or five persons would have done is now being done by one person. I am not excusing such unprofessional behavior, but that could be responsible. Two is where the hospital does not have the requisite facilities that he or she would require to work with.
“Now people come to the hospital, when there are no drugs, they blame the nurse, when the toilet is not functioning well, they blame the nurse, when there is no equipment for them to work with, the blame the nurse, why because the nurse is with the patient 24/7, and so the patient has come to see the nurse as what I will call, the surrogate, either their father, mother surrogate, their duty is to provide everything for them to function, that is not so. The nurses are there to provide nursing care, it is not the duty of the nurse to make sure that these facilities are functioning,” Omoragbon stated.