The Nigerian Medical Association (NMA) on Wednesday warned against over-stretching the ‘fragile’ healthcare sector, stating that the health sector could collapse should Nigeria witness another round of election violence such as the 2011 post-election crises.
Speaking with journalists in Abuja, the NMA President, Dr. Lawrence Obembe, stated that the debate on the 2015 elections has not taken into cognisance health agenda for the Nigerian populace.
Highlighting the imperative of a health agenda in the 2015 general election, the NMA said considering the current security situation in the country, it would amount to a double tragedy should there be election violence.
“The security situation in the country is also of a serious concern to the NMA. The number of casualties from insurgency keep multiplying by the day.
“We are once more sounding a note of warning that should there be any form of large scale electoral violence, the fragile health system which has collapsed in parts of the nation bedevilled by insurgency would not be able to cope with management of casualties,” Obembe said.
The association further appealed to “politicians and other stakeholders and the entire citizenry to eschew violence and play politics without bitterness and rancour so that Nigeria could continue to exist post 2015 general elections.”
The NMA president listed areas impeding improved healthcare service delivery to include poor community health system and local government autonomy, skewed human resources for healthcare distribution, mostly in favour of urban centres to the detriment of rural dwellers.
Obembe also listed industrial disharmony and strikes, insecurity, dwindling economic fortunes among others as obstacles to a better healthcare system.
The NMA in the same vein, charged political parties to rather focus on campaign based issues, “and clearly articulate how to tackle challenges confronting the health sector particularly the implementation of Universal Health Coverage (UHC) in the manifestos, debates and other electioneering outings.”
Meanwhile, the association also urged government and Nigerians to remain vigilant against bird flu, stressing that with new cases of bird flu reported in 16 states, there is need for more vigilance.
“Even though only one human being has been reported dead, care must be taken to curtail the flu,” NMA said.