The General Secretary of Nigeria Medical Association (NMA), Dr Philip Ekpe on Thursday revealed that some corrupt individuals in the medical field are tarnishing the good image of the vast majority.
Ekpe made the statement on Thursday during a special radio town hall meeting against corruption, organized by Progressive Impact Organization for Community Development, PRIMORG, with the support of MacArthur Foundation on Friday in Abuja.
Reacting to a recent report that indicted medical doctors and laboratory diagnostic centres of defrauding unsuspecting Nigerians through kickbacks for referrals, he stated that an average medical doctor is trained to deliver on his job very well and not to engage in kickbacks.
While admitting that kickbacks for referrals have been issues in the health sector, he noted that the societal pressure, monetary inducement and poor remuneration was fueling the act.
“I’m sure you are aware that at a time Indians come in here and they go around meeting all medical personnel that if you refer patient to us, we give you an amount of money.
“We do not have a clean society, so some few corrupt individuals tend to mess up the rest and that is why if NMA should catch any person involved, we don’t take it lightly and the person must face the disciplinary committee of the Nigeria Medical and Dental Council.”
Ekpe called on the Federal Government to increase budgetary allocation to the health sector as a matter of urgent national importance. He added that doctors in Nigeria are very good and have proven their worth abroad over time but lack adequate support from the government back home.
“As NMA, we advocate for increase in the budget of health sector, so we can improve the facility and not just salary but about the environment at which we work.
A Chief Medical Officer at Asokoro District Hospital, Abuja, Dr. George Ajayi disclosed that integrity was fundamental to healthcare delivery in the country.
He called for the teaching of integrity to be made compulsory in medical schools in Nigeria, he urged the government to prioritize improvement of remuneration of medical staff owing to the hazard associated with their job.
“Medical staff should be well paid, there should be medical insurance for staff. Also medical schools should be fortified and well equipped.
“Apart from the academics’, integrity should be thought in schools, as well as good attitude and respect,” Ajayi stressed.
Earlier in the program, a 2020 Integrity Icon, Mrs Oyeronke Suebat Izobo, called for utmost attention to be paid to the health institutions across the country, stressing that the sector is the most sensitive.
Izobo, however, revealed that the fear of health workers losing their position or being persecuted was a major factor impeding integrity amongst public servants in the health sector.
The PRIMORG’s Town Hall Meeting Against Corruption Series is aimed at calling the public and government attention to specific issues of corruption in Nigeria.