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Reps back doctors’ retirement age review

By Idowu Abdullahi,

Lawmakers at the House of Representatives have disclosed that they would be considering suggestions from health sector stakeholders, particularly the Nigeria Medical Association (NMA), seeking review of retirement age for medical doctors and other health workers.

This is coming as the lawmakers also pledged to support the idea of health bank as being canvassed by members of the association and other health workers in the country.

The House Speaker, Femi Gbajabiamila, said that the retirement age review for health workers and the health bank was in line with the house commitment to prioritize the health sector with a view to position it for better service delivery for Nigerians.

Part of the measures, the Speaker said, was that the lawmakers would look at the issue of the outstanding allowances of the Nigerian health workers.

Addressing a delegation of the Nigeria Medical Association (NMA) led by its president, Prof. Innocent Ujah, who paid him a courtesy call in his office on Wednesday, Gbajabiamila assured that the house would fast-track the legislative process on a bill to repeal and reenact the Nigeria Medical and Dental Council Act.

“Healthcare is one of the major areas of focus of the 9th House Legislative Agenda. We will continue to stand with you and anything that will help our country move forward. You can’t talk about nation-building without getting your healthcare delivery right.

“Just be rest assured that you have in this institution a friend. We will work with you. I must commend you that under the difficult terrain you work in, you’re still able to do your job,” he said.

The Speaker also supported the idea of a bank for the health sector as suggested by the NMA president, saying the House would look into it.

“We’ll like to explore the idea of a health bank further. We’ll work with our doctors in the House to know how we can go about it. If you can give us a little synopsis of it, we’ll work with it.

“On the increase in budget allocation, I believe it has been increased to some extent. I don’t know the exact figure right now, but we’ll look at it. If there’s need to review it further, we’ll do that.”

Against insinuations in some quarters that the health sector has the least budget of about N43 billion, Gbajabiamila said the sector gets over N1 trillion budgetary allocation.

Earlier, the NMA President, Prof. Ujah, who is also the Vice-Chancellor of the Federal University of Health Sciences, Otukpo, said that the visit was to strengthen the relationship between the Speaker’s office and the association.

He pleaded with the Speaker for the House to come up with good legislation for the health sector, enhance the remuneration and allowances of medical personnel, ensure new retirement age of consultants at 70 and others at 65, and improve funding and budgetary allocation for the sector as well as establish a bank for health as in the case of agriculture and industry.

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