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Nigeria in need of a revolution – Health minister

November 27, 2013

health ministerThe Minister of Health, Prof. Onyebuchi Chukwu, on Monday, in Abuja expressed concern about the nation’s state of affairs, saying only a revolution would address the imbalances in the system.
Chukwu, who made the suggestion during the inauguration of councils and boards of health professionals’ regulatory bodies, was reacting to fresh threats by some unions in the health sector to go on another strike.
He noted that the sector was losing its respect due to incessant industrial unrests.
He said, “If you see the kind of letters I receive from people who should be respected health professionals, you will weep for this country. The health sector is losing its respect. I repeat, the health sector has lost its respect; it is not only losing.
“Right now, I have on my table three threats (among groups in the health sector) to proceed on strike. One threat is to proceed on November 28. Another one is to start on December 13. For me, they can go ahead. If you are talking, people should stop sending these threats to me for goodness sake.
“Look at ASUU; we’ve not had any school; for how many months? Four months! If that is what Nigeria needs, revolution, for me, I like it. Let’s close everything; let’s close everything. Maybe, that is what Nigeria needs; we need a revolution. For me, I like it. Let’s close everything; let’s start afresh. It may be better for this country. If all these people go to the private sector they run back because they won’t get half of what government is paying.”
The minister defended the Federal Government, saying it was only in Nigeria that “we have the abnormality where government is paying better than the private sector.”
“It shouldn’t be so. The private sector ought to pay better. When I graduated as a doctor, the private sector was paying two to four times what we earned in government. But that has changed.”
He told the health unions to decide whether they preferred the private sector “where every second of the 24 hours will count or where from time to time, you have some casual leave, if they will allow you to go.”
Chukwu also said, “You can’t have it both ways; you cannot. But today, the government is paying two times what obtains in the private sector. Something is wrong somewhere. I don’t know; but something is wrong. We need to tell ourselves the truth.
“So, for me, I think we need to go back to the drawing board, all of us. Of course, we need to look at the curriculum; to look at the training of our products. We need to look at our curriculum. There is the need to maintain currency of the different training curricula.”
Earlier in his speech, the Chairman, House of Representatives Committee on Health, Mr. Ndudi Elumelu, warned the newly inaugurated board and council members against using their position to influence award of contracts or embark on the habit of sharing contracts among themselves.
The regulatory councils and boards that were inaugurated include the Medical and Dental Council of Nigeria; Pharmacists’ Council of Nigeria; Nursing and Midwifery Council of Nigeria; Medical Laboratory Science Council of Nigeria; and the Radiographers Registration Board of Nigeria.
Copyright PUNCH.

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