The Minister of State for health, Olorunnimbe Mamora, says Nigerians doctors should not have gone on strike during at this critical time of covid-19 pandemic, adding that the timing is wrong.
Mr Mamora stated this at the quarterly meeting of the Nigeria Health Commissioners Forum, on Thursday, in Abuja.
On the protracted strike by the National Association of Resident Doctors (NARD), the minister stated, “This is a period where almost the whole world is on its knees. Therefore, it is not a time to start straining the health system. Even in a war situation, you still come back to a roundtable.”
The forum tagged ‘Building a stronger health sector in Nigeria through collaboration and strategic partnership’ was convened primarily to discuss how to strengthen the health system at sub-national levels, with an overall objective of achieving Universal Health Coverage (UHC).
Mr Mamora also admitted that inadequate funding was also hindering the development of the sector and the industrial dispute in the health sector.
“Whether you are talking of health infrastructure, equipment in the hospitals and human resources for health, the underlying factor is funding,” the minister explained. “Even if you have enough human resources in the health sector, you need to take care of emoluments, incentives. Therefore, you need funding, period. That is why we need to find ways of increasing the funding for the health sector.”
He suggested that legal commodities but harmful to human health should be taxed to generate more funds to support the sector.
“We need to begin to tax commodities like alcohol, cigarettes, which cause a lot of damage to the human body,” Mr Mamora further explained. “The whole thing will end in the health sector, therefore, increasing the spending in the sector.”
He added, ”That is why we are saying that if people take these things, let us find a way to put some tax on it so that we can get some money to fund the health sector, in addition to the existing funding structures.”