No more foreign medical treatment for public officers except…
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
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
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
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
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
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.