As Nigerians cross over to a new year, the Lagos State Branch of the Nigeria Medical Association (NMA), has urged the Nigerian government to immediately domesticate the National Health Insurance Authority (NHIA), lamenting that the economic downturn reached a pyrexic degree in 2023 and consequently affected the healthcare sector.
The State NMA, Chairman, Dr. Benjamin Olowojebutu who made the call in his New Year message, noted that the time to domesticate NHIA was now as some Nigerians lost their loved ones or struggled to get adequate healthcare service due to the economic downturn that affected the sector.
Olowojebutu explained that the domestication of the NHIA will precipitate significant progress that would ensure that healthcare services are not just accessible but also affordable, allowing every citizen to enjoy the right to quality healthcare without the burden of financial constraints.
He said: “We must not allow last year’s burden to trap us or preclude us from enjoying the inexplicable blessings of the new year. While I expect this piece to offer hope to the downcast, it must also serve as a heads-up to our leaders and those in authority.
“First, it is imperative to appreciate the government for exerting laudable efforts in advancing our healthcare system. However, there is more to be done. This urgency spurred me to make this essential health need the primary premise of my New Year message.
“There is no better time to domesticate the National Health Insurance Authority (NHIA) than now.”
The NMA Chairman said that the government must become dedicated to enhancing primary healthcare services, recognizing that a strong foundation is critical to a robust healthcare system, by investing in the grassroots, thereby fortifying the very fabric of our nation’s health and nurturing the well-being of communities from the ground up.
“Another efficient approach to advancing the healthcare system, the government must exhibit an unwavering commitment to the vulnerable in our society, particularly the precious lives of children under 5 and our revered elderly.
“Intentional effort must be pledged to bolster their welfare, ensuring that no one is left behind and that the golden years of our seniors are characterized by dignity and comfort.”
Continuing, he said the tireless warriors on the front lines of healthcare deserved the government’s deepest gratitude, encouragement, and adequate compensation.
“Their unwavering commitment, especially amid unprecedented challenges, has been heroic. In this new year, the government must resolutely act not just promise to improve their welfare, recognizing that a well-supported healthcare workforce is the backbone of a robust healthcare system.
“This will significantly ameliorate the massive medical brain drain bedeviling our nation.”
He further pledged that medical doctors will make a giant stride into the new year.
Olowojebutu who extended their heartfelt appreciation and gratitude to the communities they serve with dedication and passion prayed that: “May this new year bring forth healing, prosperity, and a shared commitment to building a nation where health is not just a privilege but a national right.”