The bill for an act to amend the University Teaching Hospitals in the House of Representatives has continued to pit stakeholders in Nigeria’s health sector against each other.
However, Its public hearing, which was delayed until July 27, is already rife with disagreements regarding administrative titles and competence.
The bill, sponsored by Hon. Bamidele Salam of the Ede North/Ede South/Egbedore/Ejigbo Federal Constituency of Osun State aims to rename the position of Chief Medical Director for the head of tertiary hospitals in Nigeria and redefine the requirements for that position.
It also seeks to provide a definite tenure of office for the heads of tertiary hospitals; including students of Health Sciences in the training programmes of tertiary hospitals; include hospitals established post-enactment of the extant legal framework in the schedule and for other related matters; restructure the composition of the governing boards of the federal government tertiary hospitals, among others.
By implication, any health professional, including pharmacists, laboratory technicians, nurses, and others can now head teaching and tertiary hospitals—as opposed to the current hierarchy that medical doctors occupy.
“All well-meaning Nigerians who wish our health sector well should distance themselves from the proposed amendment, and the bill should be jettisoned in its entirety,” said the Secretary-General of the Association of Provosts of Colleges of Medicine, Prof Lawrence Omo-Agboja.
“Have you seen where nurses and pharmacists are consulting? Let’s even see if pharmacists will enter where another pharmacist is consulting. Will you go to a hospital where a pharmacist or a laboratory scientist is consulting? Omo-Agboja said.
According to him, such an arrangement is like people walking on their heads, and the proposed amendment is founded on the wrong premise and context.
“Pharmacists are also made to develop vaccines, why can’t they develop vaccines?
“Rather than develop the pharmaceutical industry, they want to be doctors by default,” he added.
However, he warned that if Nigeria continues to do what they like, it can destroy the health sector.
Similarly, the president of the Nigerian Medical Association, Uche Ojinmah said the association rejects the bill in its entirety.
“But we may not also go into the elaborate discussion until we finish presenting our position at the public hearing. It was meant to be July 6 but we postponed it to July 27,” he said.
However, On the other side are the pharmaceutical professionals and others rooting for the bill, and pushing their agenda, too.