By Ndidi Chukwu
In response to reactions against privatization of public hospitals, the Nigerian Medical Association has criticized reported claim by Joint Health Sector Union that “government plans to sell off hospitals” under the guise of public-private partnerships (PPP), saying the union was “afraid of the work place discipline” that private sector control would bring to hospitals.
Head of NMA’s clinical governance committee, Dr Joseph Ana said, “JOHESU wants it members to continue with their bad work ethics but continue to collect Government pay”
In a reaction to JOHESU’s comments at a media briefing last week which led to a front page newspaper story, Ana said JOHESU’s presentation of proposals in public private partnership in health sector was a ” wicked distortion of facts.”
It said instead the plan was to introduce PPP to hospital services, including drugs and commodities, radiology, laboratory, catering services for staff and patients, sanitation and environmental services, security and mortuary services.
“The false alarm and nefarious claim is capable of generating public breach of peace and disaffection against the government, and is capable of causing distress amongst the population and discord against a popularly elected government,” Ana said in a statement.
Public private partnerships targeting different services in health delivery have been attempted since the National Council on Health, Nigeria’s highest policy maker in health, approved it in 2006. Federal and state governments have begun experimenting with it, but PPP has controversially been at the heart of a strike by health workers under JOHESU at the Federal Medical Centre, Owerri. NMA has supported PPP as the way forward for Nigeria, insisting private sector involvement in health would bring in corporate efficiency, discipline and resources which government alone cannot afford, if it is to deliver on all health promises.