Rise up, doctors
Rise up, unafraid.
When the silence isn’t quiet
And it feels like it’s getting hard to breath
And I know you feel like dying
But I promise
We’ll take the world to its feet
And move mountains
We’ll take it to its feet
And move mountains
A Public Disgrace
On the 17th February 2020, doctors and doctors’ leaders were frustrated and ridiculed at the Public hearing on the National Health Insurance Scheme (NHIS). The Senate Committee on Health is interested in enacting an Act to abolish the NHIS Act and replace it with the National Health Insurance Commission (NHIC).
The Public hearing was to hear from the general public and especially to hear from stakeholders on a bill being sponsored to repeal the NHIS Act of 2004 and replace it with a new Act setting up the NHIC.
At such a monumental and pivotal event, doctors were side-lined and given a mere 3 minutes to talk. Not enough time to get up and straighten one’s Agbada: let alone say anything meaningful.
Such ridicule and disrespect should signal the beginning of the end in any continued participation in the farce called the NHIS.
The stakeholders in any law on the NHIS or the proposed NHIC are the general health seeking Nigerian public, the healthcare providers and perhaps the Health Management Organisations (HMO).
So, let me explain this in simple terms.
The NHIS is about getting Nigerians who need healthcare to see doctors, nurses, physiotherapists and other providers who will provide the healthcare needs. The HMOs are the engine to help make that contact episode seamless and pain free for both the patient and the doctor. So, that the experience is beneficial to the patient!
The experience is only beneficial if the doctor is empowered to provide the facility, the manpower and the wherewithal for the patient to enjoy.
It almost means that the doctor is the most important ingredient in this rich Egusi soup.
Everything the patient will enjoy is to be provided by the doctor. SoSo, why would the doctor be side-lined in such a situation?
Yet, this is what has been happening since the inception of the NHIS.
The fat cats creaming from the NHIS have been the officials of the NHIS and the HMOs.
The health care providers (doctors!) have been systematically strangled and strung out, that many no longer offer care on the NHIS.
For far too long, the NHIS as an organisation takes the money available for health of the Nigerian patient and uses up to 70% for administrative costs! Similarly, the HMOs take close to 15% of the money given to them to pay for the healthcare needs of their clients as administrative costs!
The PROVIDERS, aka, doctors are paid peanuts and no administrative charges! If paid at all! You see, many hospitals and healthcare facilities are owed millions of Naira in unpaid bills, many years in arrears.
We have been bled to the bone and many hospitals have gone bankrupt with doctors ending up in penury. Hospitals have closed down simply for helping Nigerians and providing timely care at the time of their needs.
The latest insult is the Senate hearing in which doctors were pushed aside as unimportant parts of the NHIC pie.
The people agitating for the repeal of the NHIS and the enactment of the NHIC are already sharing the pie to the exclusion of providers. This monumental slight can only head in one direction, failure!
Doctors and doctors’ organisations (HCPAN, GMD, NMA, AGPMPN) should bend forward and tell the Senate and the HMOs what to do. They can keep the NHIC where the sun does not shine!
The simple truth is that this will not work without doctors, nurses, physiotherapists and all other healthcare providers. Healthcare providers should be the ones to tell the senate and HMO organisations how to solve any related issues.
We cannot be ignored or sidelined if real gains are to be made with the NHIS.
We do the work!
NB: On another matter, nurses and doctors have recently been increasingly threatened and injured by relatives in our hospitals. Doctors have been assaulted, kidnapped and even killed by irate members of the public. Please note that the problems with our health care delivery is not the fault of doctors.
Next time the elections come around, vote wisely!