BUHARI’S medical trip abroad shows Govt’s neglect of health, violates National Health Act–ASCAB
By Samuel Ogunsona
President Mohammadu Buhari’s constant visits to the United Kingdom, (UK) for health check depicts the terrible state of Nigerian medicare.
The trip also assaults the country’s National Health Act, the Alliance for the Survival of COVID-19 and Beyond said on Wednesday.
The labour and civil society coalition group in a statement made available to Irohinoodua said it is contradictory for the President to go abroad for medicare when as billions of naira are allocated to the health sector every year apart from the huge amount of money credited to the Presidential clinic in Aso Rock.
‘The President of Nigeria visiting the United Kingdom, for healthcare 60 years after independence is a shame. It confirms that Nigeria cannot guarantee the health of her President even with the country can boast of a rainbow of experts and Teaching Hospitals that have been left to rot away.
The group said if the country cannot secure the well being of her President, how much more the health of ordinary people on the streets. ASCAB said President Buhari’s action violates the constitution of the country.
In a statement signed by ASCAB’s Chairman, Mr Femi Falana, (SAN) the group regretted that millions of Nigerians have no access to basic healthcare while primary health provision has almost been abandoned across the country leaving millions in despair.
ASCAB traced the tragic weekend deaths of two prominent human rights activists, Mr Yinka Odumakin and Innocent Chukwuma to the parlous state of Nigerian healthcare saying that the two, like millions of Nigerian in rural and urban areas would have lived if the country’s leaders had funded and equipped hospitals for prompt diagnosis and treatment.
ASCAB said ‘The total neglect of public healthcare in Nigerian has seen millions of people lose their lives from preventable deaths. While many people die in millions every year, armed and defenseless people, rich and poor suffer from the tragic neglect of Nigerian health sector by the Federal and State Governments. The latest known victims are Yinka and Innocent, two people that were reputed for immense sacrifices in the pro-democracy campaigns but have to die due to Governments poor funding of the health sector and corruption at all levels’ ASCAB said.
ASCAB said President Buhari has consistently breached the law as his medical treatment and check up in the United Kingdom have not been recommended by a Medical Board approved by the Minister of Health in line with section 46 of the National Health Act.
The sections states ‘Without prejudice to the right of any Nigerian to seek medical check-up, investigation or treatment anywhere within and outside Nigeria no public officer of the government of the Federation or any part thereof shall be sponsored for medical check-up, investigation or treatment abroad at public expense except in exceptional cases on the recommendation and referral by the medical board and which recommendation or referral shall be duly approved by the Minister or the Commissioner of health of the state as the case may be.”
ASCAB said President Buhari leaving the country at a time of national strike by doctors shows his disdain for the health sector knowing that himself and his family, like many top government officials depend on foreign hospitals for the healthcare at public expense.
ASCAB expressed full support for the strike embarked upon by National Association of Resident Doctors, (NARD) and Judiciary Staff Union of Nigeria, (JUSUN). It said the demands of the medical and judicial workers were driven by patriotism and the need to protect the integrity of the country.
On the strike by JUSUN, ASCAB said access to justice is increasingly becoming the right of the rich and the privileged adding that denial of justice and the monopoly of liberty by the rich has the potential of spurring violence and across the country.
ASCAB also referred to Section 123 of the Constitution which provided for judicial autonomy. The group cites precedence in two separate suits filed by Judicial Staff Union of Nigeria (JUSUN) and Olisa Agbakoba SAN where the Federal High Court declared that the judicial arm of the government is entitled to financial independence. As the judgments were ignored President Buhari issued Executive Order 10 of 2019 to actualize the provisions of the Constitution on financial autonomy for the judiciary. ‘Since both judgments and the Presidential Executive 10 have been ignored the JUSUN has commenced another industrial action. ASCAB supports the strike and calls on all the governments involved to meet the demands of the JUSUN.