The Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) on Thursday charged government at all levels to end medical tourism by investing in the nation’s health sector.
The NLC President, Ayuba Wabba, made the call at a ceremony to mark the 2020 Global Day of Action on Care held in Abuja.
He said the COVID-19 pandemic had exposed the poor state of the nation’s health infrastructure.
He said: “The theme: ‘Invest in Care Now!’ is to drum up demands for heavy investments in the care sector by our government and big businesses if we must keep a healthy society and productive human resource base.
“Apart from the fact that our healthcare sector has been neglected for too long, workers in the sector have also been subjected to unfair treatment for too long.
“Essential workers, as they are often called at crisis times, do not have the necessary personal protective equipment to work with, especially before the outbreak of COVID-19.
“Government waited for the pandemic before it woke up to the reality of the decadence in our health care sector. Even now, enough has not been done to properly equip the sector and properly kit health workers across the country.”
He stressed that with the massive resources at the government’s disposal, Nigeria could afford to build and effectively equip some of the best hospitals in the world, with global best practices and personnel.
He, however, noted that successive governments had failed to treat healthcare as a top priority beyond mere policy statements.
“We believe that now is the time for our government at all levels to demonstrate keen attention to the health sector. The current pandemic has shown how important healthcare is to all sectors and citizens of any country.
“Owing to COVID-19 pandemic, our economy has suffered huge losses both in human and capital investment. No country will grow with such avoidable losses.
“The COVID-19 pandemic has also exposed the risks healthcare workers face daily in the course of their duties as they do not have adequate and appropriate safety gears, access to their own health care, and the decent pay that are commensurate with the work they do.
“Healthcare workers also need standard daycare centres to keep their children when schools are not open and, or infants that are not of school age, to enable them to concentrate on their work,” Wabba added.
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