TheNigerianVoice Online Radio Center

No more foreign medical treatment for public officers except…

Source: pointblanknews.com

The National Conference, in a bid to reduce the current negative impact of

medical tourism on the image and integrity of Nigeria and her healthcare

system, has set strict procedures that must be observed by public officers

seeking medical treatment outside Nigeria.
The Conference on Wednesday said seeking medical treatment abroad has

resulted in immense capital flight and drain on Nigeria's economy

resulting from medical tourism; it cited abuse of existing processes for

screening of referrals for foreign medical treatment as one of the

reasons.
Consequently, it resolved that henceforth, there should be restriction of

government sponsorship of public officers for foreign medical care; and

that unless for exceptional cases that require referral abroad, all public

officers should mandatorily utilize local health facilities.

These exceptional cases, it said, must be screened by a medical board made

up of appropriate medical and healthcare professionals.

In addition, the recommendations of the board should be subject to the

approval of the Minister of Health who is the chief medical adviser to the

Federal Government; except where such exceptional cases are serious

emergencies, in which instant approval may be given.

Conference however expressed the need for improvement in the quality of

healthcare services in Nigeria; a deliberate effort to refocus the

attitude of healthcare workers to patients in Nigeria; and improved

political commitment to health by political office holders.

These resolutions were arrived at after heated debates on the report of

the Committee on the Social Sector presented by the Committee Chairman,

Iyom Josephine Anenih, supported by the deputy chairman, Professor

Ruqayyatu Ahmed Rufai, the former Minister of Education.

It was also resolved that free-healthcare be established for children aged

0-5 years; senior citizens from the age of 65 years; persons living with

disability or the physically challenged persons; free maternal services

and free school health programmes.
After another round of heated debate by the delegates, Conference resolved

that government and owners of mission/private schools should dialogue to

facilitate the handover of all mission and private schools to their

original owners.
In returning the schools, it was agreed that owners must ensure that they

are affordable and able to serve wider variety of the public as it were in

the original concept of the mission schools.
It recommended that there should be regulation of fees charged by the

schools; the schools should provide assistance to the local community

through scholarships and other services; and that children from other

denominations should not be marginalized in the admission process.

Conference agreed that staff of such schools should have the option of

remaining with the institution or being absorbed into government service

in the case of the return of the mission and private schools to their

original owners.
Still on schools, it was unanimously decided that government should

convert all Almajiri schools to normal schools and integrate Quranic

education curriculum to absorb the millions of out of school children.

Government was also asked to provide free basic education with free

uniforms, books and midday meals for all children from primary one to

junior secondary three.
It was also resolved that government should build additional Almajiri

Schools to bring them up to 400 as originally planned while a 10 year plan

of sustained implementation should be put in place with a view to

providing access to all children.
On pension, Conference said the 2004 Pension Act should be amended so that

payment of pension to beneficiaries would continue throughout their

lifetime instead of the current practice where payment is only made to

people between 15 and 18 years post-retirement.
Delegates agreed on the urgent need to amend the 2004 Pension Act to

include a provision to hold the pension commission responsible and also

prescribe penalties.
It was accepted that salary reviews should be reflected in calculating

benefits across the board, particularly in reference to long-time

retirees; salary increases should automatically affect retirees in both

the old and new pension systems.
To ensure full coverage of citizens, Conference said pension fund

administrators and the national pension commission should be obliged to

begin a comprehensive programme of registering the informal sector workers

under the 2004 Pensions Act.
Conference also unanimously decided that  a social security policy be put

in practice to cater for the well being of the elderly in addition to the

pension policy.
Proceedings at the Conference however came to a halt for about 15 minutes

as female delegates and some male delegates took the floor to protest

attempts by other delegates to vote against the application of the

affirmative action demanding that 35% of elective offices at all levels be

given reserved for women.
As soon as delegates voted to reduce the percentage from 35% to 30%, all

the women in the hall including some men stood up, started singing and

threatened a walk-out if the decision was not reversed.

When the hall was eventually called to order, some of the male delegates

including former Speaker of the House of Representatives, Ghali Umar

Na'Abba, spoke in favour of 35%. They stated that the matter was already

an existing government policy.
At this point, it was unanimously decided that since the practice was

already in existence and on-going, it should be allowed to remain.

Instantly, some female delegates started asking for increase to 40%.

Conference also decided that the Federal Government should put into

effective use, the National Policy on Women adopted in 2004 which was

replaced with the National Gender Policy in 2006.
Government was also asked to draft for passage and implementation, a Bill

on the Abolition of all Forms of Discrimination against Women in Nigeria

to address the issue of discrimination and violence against women and

maltreatment of widows
Delegates adopted a recommendation that government should legislate to

prohibit installation of telecommunication mast in residential

neighbourhoods and to prohibit other practices that negatively impact on

health including female genital mutilation.