Health professionals in Enugu State have called on political party candidates for the March 11 Governorship and State Assembly elections to prioritise health issues.
They were of the view that prioritising health issues would deliver quality, accessible, and affordable healthcare for all in the state notwithstanding location or economic status.
The health professionals said this during the Maiden Dialogue with Gubernatorial Front-Runners on Health Sector Agenda Setting and Consensus Building held in Enugu on Saturday.
The Chairman of Nigeria Medical Association, Enugu State, Dr. Celestine Ugwoke, said that the purpose of the dialogue was to start early to impress it upon would-be governors that the success of the health sector holds the success of other sectors.
Ugwoke, who articulated the views of other health professionals and associations, said that the dialogue was also a catch-them-young programme meant to focus the minds of candidates on building a virile and resilient health system to enhance productivity.
He said: “We aim at having a robust interaction on ways to move the health sector of the state forward, especially providing holistic healthcare to the benefit of rural dwellers and all residents in the state.
“In our interaction, the health professionals will know the political candidates’ blue-print on health; and get their buying into existing and running health system frameworks that needed to be strengthened for further positive results.”
The chairman noted that the dialogue would be continued through various means to ensure that the voices of health professionals are heard clearly and “sustainable and beneficial actions taken to put the health sector in proper footing in the state”.
Earlier, Prof. Benjamin Uzochukwu, a Professor of Health Management, Systems, and Policy, noted that health professionals and associations/unions remained critical stakeholders in the good governance project of any government or state/country.
Uzochukwu, who is of the West Africa Medical and Dental Council, said that the incoming governor must prioritise health and health programmes serving the generality of the people, especially on health and well-being of the rural people.
He maintained that the vast population of the people of the state still lives in the rural areas and as such an encompassing, holistic, and sustainable healthcare would be sought.
“There is a need to strengthen capacity and reach of the Universal Health Coverage in the state as well as make the Primary Healthcare Centres or facilities more functional to attend to the health needs and challenges of people in rural communities,” he said.
The News Agency of Nigeria reports that among the four leading political candidates in the state invited for the dialogue, only the Labour Party Governorship Candidate, Dr. Chijioke Edeoga, honoured the invitation in a representative capacity.
Edeoga, who was represented by Prof. Augustine Akubue, said that he would stop medical practitioners’ brain drain from the state by checkmating all push factors that cause it through adequate remuneration, training, and retraining as well as allowance among others.
He said that his administration would increase budgetary allocation to health, increase inter-agencies collaborations as well as fashion out a robust Public-Private-Partnership (PPP) to increase the number of health facilities, equipment, and technology in the state.
“We will also deal with issues of quackery in some health professions by ensuring that all professionals are duly licensed to operate and that all health facilities in the state are duly registered and monitored to ensure a high standard.
“The Labour Party will ensure that all health facilities lying fallow in the state are put to beneficial use and provide technology to ensure proper and secured data capture in health facilities among others,” he said.
The dialogue session also featured questions and answers interaction between health professionals and the Labour Party candidate.