Primary healthcare in Nigeria on the precipice, says forum of local govt nurses

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By Steve Oni, Ilorin

The National Chairman, Forum for Local Government Nurses and Midwives in Nigeria, Comrade Obafemi Agbede, has lamented that the Primary Healthcare system in the country is on the precipice, saying “things are fast falling apart, and if no concrete steps are taken to halt the fall, we can only predict a gloomy tomorrow in the sector.”

Agbede, who spoke on Tuesday in Ilorin, the Kwara state capital, at the opening ceremony of Induction of State Administrative Council Members, was miffed that certain key issues and demands by the Forum from 2014 to date, including non involvement of nurses/midwives in core public health activities, serious unemployment of nurses at the local government level and insecurity and its attendant threats to their work at the local government level, have remained unresolved.

He said: “Between 2014 and now, there has been a change of government and a reelections of administrations, but it is unfortunate that the fortunes of local government nurses and midwives have not changed for the better. The government appears more interested in making promises and reneging on them, they are more interested in formulating policies that they will not follow or implement.

“And so today, the policy of primary healthcare under one roof is still not being implemented by state governments. Our members are still owed salary arrears in many States of the federation. Most, if not all of our facilities lack basic equipment, our members are having to work under very hazardous conditions and despite protestations and despite acknowledging in the policy framework that nurses are key stakeholders in the health sector, we are still neglected in the policy making process.

“And this stems primarily from the absence of political will to do the needful. Our government at all levels appear too weak to take a stand in investing in health and implementing international best practices in the sector. Unfortunately, the people are the victims because it means the citizens are not getting the best from what is available. It is time therefore that Nigerians rise to demand from government an #EndToNeglectofHealth.

“Comrades, you must not relent in fighting for what is the interest of the people of Nigeria. The reality is that if we can succeed in making health a priority of government, if we can man make funding health better than what it is currently, if health facilities can be improved upon due to our agitation, we would have done what many political parties cannot do, we would have saved the lives of poor, rural Nigerians. And that is a worthy cause.”

To the new state executives, the Nation Chairman implored them to pursue policies and practices that would enhance the wellbeing of members, saying, “you must always represent the best of their interest, to the best of your abilities. This is why you were elected, and I am sure that was what you promised to do. Don’t do anything to divide the house, instead build positively on what exists so that in future others will have positive things to say about your tenure.”

In her address at the occasion, Kwara state Head of Service Mrs Susan Modupe Oluwole commenfed the roles of nurses and midwives in the society, saying nobody can remunerate them adequately except God.

She said: “Nobody can pay you for what you do, it is only God that knows how to reward you appropriately. If all hospitals this day decide to remove the effects of nurses and midwives, you and me know what will happen. I, however, urge you not to condone indiscipline and non char lance among your members, but to strive to bring up the younger nurses and midwives on the right path”

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