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Nigerian doctors want an increase to budgetary allocation for the health sector

The Nigerian Association of Resident Doctors (NARD) has urged the Federal Government to increase the budgetary allocation for the health sector from the subsisting 5% in the 2022 budget to a figure closer to 15% as recommended at the 2001 Abuja declaration for health financing in Africa.

The doctors made the appeal in a communique issued on Sunday following their National Executive Council (NEC) meeting tagged “ABUJA 2022” with the theme, “Changing Faces and Phases of COVID-19: Problems and Prospects.”

This, according to them, will not only help to improve their welfare but will also contribute to reducing the ‘brain drain’ said to be experienced by health workers in the country.

“We urge the Federal Government to take steps towards curtailing medical brain drain. The Federal Government should look towards increasing the budgetary allocation of the health sector from the subsisting 5% in the 2022 budget to a figure closer to 15% as recommended at the 2001 Abuja declaration for health financing in Africa.

“This will enable more employment in the sector, improved welfare and service conditions for health workers, and also an upgrade of health facilities and equipment in our institutions across the country,” the communique read in part.

The NEC also noted that the Federal Government has paid the withheld August and September 2021 salaries to its members, and also paid the 2021 Medical Residency Training Fund (MRTF).

It, however, noted that some members were yet to receive payment of their omitted 2020 MRTF.

The group, therefore, urged the Federal Government to expedite action on the payment of omitted 2020 MRTF to members before the 2021 fiscal year runs out in March 2022.

They thanked Governors of Delta, Benue and Lagos States for “blazing the trail in the adoption/domestication of the 2017 Medical Residency Training Act (MRTA) and also payment of Medical Residency Training Fund (MRTF) to resident doctors in their states.” while calling on other states to emulate same.

States said to still be oweing arrears of salaries and allowances include: Abia (23 months), Imo (10 months), Ondo (6 months), and Ekiti (3 months).

“This is becoming inhuman and embarrassing”, the communique read.

“We also appeal to the Governors of Delta (1 month) and Gombe (2 months) states to release the withheld salaries of our members in the respective states, so as to alleviate their sufferings,” NARD added.

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