Declare state of emergency in health, education sectors now — PFN urges FG

The Pentecostal Fellowship of Nigeria (PFN) has called on the Federal Government to declare state of emergency in the health and education sectors and immediately convoke Education and Health summits to comprehensively address the challenges facing the two critical sectors.

The body, in a statement issued by its National President, Bishop Francis Wale Oke on Wednesday, said the summits proposed should bring together stakeholders in the sectors, State and local governments, the private sector, development partners, non-governmental organisations, labour unions, students and other interest groups, to generate policy framework and propose legislations which will serve as basis for immediate, long-term and lasting solutions to put an end to the unending crises in the sectors.

The PFN also decried the lethargy with which the Federal Government has handled the on-going strike by the Nigerian Association of Resident Doctors (NARD), frowned at the allegation by the doctors that government has failed to keep to the terms of the agreement it entered into with them.
“We are particularly worried that in the face of the Coronavirus pandemic, Cholera epidemic and other health emergencies, government did not take advantage of the 21-day notice given by the Doctors to resolve the issues and prevent this avoidable crisis that has led to loss of lives and worsening of condition in an already imperiled sector,” it said.

The body said it took notice of the ultimatum issued by the Nigerian Medical Association (NMA), the 15-day ultimatum by the Joint Health Sector Unions and Assembly of Health Care Professionals Association (JOHESU), as well as the notice by the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) which might plunge the two sectors into another round of crisis.

“We call on the Federal Government to immediately step in to address all the issues, which the Unions allege stem from failure of government to keep to previous agreements.

“We are concerned that in the face of the worrying Doctor-Patient ratio, put at between 1-2500 and 1-4000 by different institutions, against the World Health Organisation (WHO) recommendation of 1-600, the government is not putting the right foot forward to address the increasing wave of Doctors and other professionals migrating abroad in search of greener pastures, further deepening the problem of brain drain that Nigeria is currently faced with.

“A situation in which we have over 20,000 Nigerian-born Physicians practising in the United Kingdom while we have less than 40,000 Doctors on the register at home does not augur well for the country,” the statement said.

The PFN said it was pleased at the intervention by the Vice President, Prof Yemi Osinbajo to bring about a resolution of the problem with the Nigerian Association of Resident Doctors (NARD) which led to the strike.

“We, however, call for further and immediate action on the part of the government to comprehensively address all the issues facing the two critical sectors, come up with creative solutions to meet the funding gap, design emolument package that will keep Nigerian professionals being trained at enormous cost by the country from moving out in droves to put their services to the use of other countries and put an end to the increasing tendency for our leaders to go abroad for consultation and treatment, while majority of Nigerians lack access to basic health care,” the body said.
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