NMA to Senate: Amend the Constitution to stop use of Public Fund for Medical Trips

The Nigerian Medical Association (NMA) has told the Senate to amend the Nigerian Constitution to stop the President, governors, members of the National Assembly, and other public office holders from travelling abroad for medical trips with public funds.

Professor Innocent Ujah, the siting President of the Association stated this in an interview with Channels TV today, a day after the Senate Committee on Federal Character and Intergovernmental Affairs asked State House officials to equip the clinic at the Presidential Villa to ensure President Muhammadu Buhari would have no need to travel abroad for medical treatment.

“What the Senate is saying, in my own opinion, is purely political. It has no force of law. If they want it to have force of law, they should enact it in the Constitution; amend the Constitution and make it a law,” the NMA president said.

“What we need to know is that nobody can be prevented from accessing health from anywhere in the world, but it should not be at government expenses.

“I think that is the most important thing. The second thing is that they have talked about funds for the State House clinic; that money has not been released,” Prof Uja stated.

Professor Uja pointed out that the decision of the lawmakers is not new as NMA had previously called for repositioning of the nation’s health sector to discourage public office holders from embarking on medical trips abroad adding that, if the State House clinic has been certified not good enough for the President, it should be upgraded with the provision of needed equipment and personnel.

The NMA President who stood with the stance of the Senate noted that “If it is passed into law, then that will be operational because making a statement like that has no force of law.

He furthered that "We are saying the State House clinic is not good enough for the President to be attended to and, therefore, it is only when the place is upgraded, facilities are available, human capacity development is improved, equipment are bought, installed and functional, that we can clearly make that statement and it is not only for the President, it is for all of them, including the senators, members of the House of Representatives, and others.”

Professor Uja however pointed out that it will be unwise to say one should not travel with his own money for Medical Trips but should not be with public funds stressing that, there is  need for the government to strengthen the nation’s health system to respond to the challenges of the people, both during the COVID-19 pandemic and thereafter.

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