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Unfriendly attitudes of health workers responsible for medical tourism ~ Buhari

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President Muhammadu Buhari on Monday, March 22, 2021, attributed the unfriendly attitude of health workers in the country to patients as a factor responsible for medical tourism embarked upon by Nigerians.

Buhari, who said this in Abeokuta, the Ogun State capital, at the official commissioning of an International Conference Centre and Telemedicine hall as well as six other projects at the Federal Medical Centre (FMC), Abeokuta, emphasised the need for continuous training and retraining of health workers in order to deliver quality health care services to Nigerians.

The President who spoke through the Minister of Health, Dr Osagie Ehanire, said, “We still get all too often for comfort, disconcerting reports of not friendly attitudes of staff to patients, reports of unhygienic and housekeeping standards that leaves something to be desired even in the presence of sophisticated equipment and well-qualified doctors”.

“Such simple failings like these are more frequently responsible for the loss of confidence of the end-users in our health system than even the lack of equipment”.

“They are the triggers for the distrust that will lead people to go on medical tourism”, he said.

“We have a lot of work to do in that area and I want to believe that the managers of our hospitals after such laudable, fantastic infrastructure investment, we now begin to pay attention, not only to improving staff harmony and welfare but to retraining health caregivers for better professionalism that deliver service in a productive and courteous atmosphere based on the lessons we learnt from our traditional African hospitality”.

Buhari disclosed that his administration is currently embarking on the infrastructural development of all it’s tertiary hospitals so as to position them for quality health care delivery to the people.

He also disclosed that the National Health Insurance Scheme is awaiting a law that would make the scheme compulsory for every Nigerian.

“We are carrying on infrastructural development at all our tertiary hospitals to position them for quality health care delivery to all persons, the National Health Insurance Scheme is awaiting a new law to make health insurance mandatory,” he said.

President Buhari who noted that his administration is passionate about health care delivery at the grassroots level disclosed that his administration has redesigned the Primary Health Care Centers to now operate for 24 hours daily.

“We are passionate about health care at the grass-root level and it is our policy to have one functional health care centre in every ward of the country.

We have redesigned the Primary Health Care Centers to no longer function as a dispensary that opens from 9 am to 5 pm but as a centre that is open 24hours a day,” he said.

Also speaking, the President of the Senate, Ahmed Lawan noted that the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic had given the federal government the opportunity to provide additional resources, particularly for infrastructure that will enable Nigeria to address the outbreak of pandemics in future.

Lawan who was represented by the Chairman, Senate Committee on Health, Senator Ibrahim Oloriegbe, said the federal government is building 10 bed Intensive Care Unit (ICU) centres, 30-bed isolation centres and well equipped, functional molecular laboratories in every of the 52 Federal Medical Centres (FMCs) in Nigeria.

He assured that the bill on the establishment of Ogun State University of Medicine and Medical Sciences, Abeokuta, would be passed by the National Assembly before the end of April, 2021.

On his part, the Speaker of the House of Representatives, Hon. Femi Gbajabiamila, in his speech said that the projects were evidence of the fulfilment of promises made by the government and signified the continued progress of the FMC.

“It is the cardinal responsibility to ensure the welfare and the wellbeing of the people. Providing access to quality health care services that our people can afford is one way we serve their best interest”, Gbajabiamila.

Speaking at the ceremony, Ogun State Governor, Prince Dapo Abiodun, expressed the willingness of his administration to go into partnership with the federal government and other stakeholders in order to ensure adequate delivery of health care services to the people.

Abiodun while calling on all health institutions in the State regardless of their ownership to strengthen their collaboration and synergy within themselves and the State government, added that his administration will continue to put in place appropriate policies and programmes towards providing efficient and effective health-care for the people.

“Let me assure the Board, management and staff of FMC, Abeokuta that our administration will continue to support and partner FMC and every other Medical Institution towards providing efficient and effective medicare for our people, the same goes for every other Institution in the other sectors of the economy.

“We appreciate the place of partnership towards the successful and continued implementation of the “Building our Future Together” agenda in Ogun State. Let me therefore call on all Health Institutions in Ogun State regardless of ownership to strengthen their collaboration and synergy within themselves and with the State Government,” he said.

Speaking on the projects, the Medical Director of Federal Medical Center, Prof. Adewale Musa-Olomu said the centre is the first in the country to have a telemedicine hall.

He said the centre has successfully performed more than 300 brain tumour surgeries since the establishment of the neurosurgical and cardiothoracic units. Musa-Olomu expressed the optimism that the hospital would be upgraded to a teaching hospital with the establishment of the University of Medicine and Medical Sciences.

Other dignitaries at the event included: former governor, Chief Olusegun Osoba, the Alake of Egbaland, Oba Adedotun Aremu Gbadebo, Minister of State for Health, Senator Olorunnimbe Mamora.

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