Nigeria: FG Tasked Over Single Digit Interest Rate for Health Sector

Vanguard (Lagos)

Chioma Obinna

29 November 2011

A passionate appeal has gone to the Federal Government to mandate financial institutions to give loan at single digit interest rate to healthcare practitioners as part of efforts to save the health sector from total collapse.

Guild of Medical Directors, GMD, who made the appeal in Lagos, is also seeking sanction against government officials, agencies and parastatals that spends public funds on medical treatment overseas.

Members of the GMD who are medical professionals posited that the proposed crash in interest rate, similar to what the government has done in both aviation and the agricultural sectors, is necessary for the upgrade of private health institution, achievement of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) and saving the sector from current free fall.

The National Chairman of GMD, Dr. Charles Cudjoe who spoke at the Guild’s 19th National Annual General Meeting tagged: Business of Private and Public Health Care in Nigeria” lamented the poor state of healthcare in the country, regretting that life expectancy of Nigerians that has dropped from 65 years to mere 45 years should be a cause of concern to the authorities.

Cudjoe also alerted government at all levels on what he described as “a second wave of brain drain” of Nigerian medical doctors due to the fact that many private clinics, hospitals and medical centres have closed down as a result of financial insolvency and bankruptcy.

Stating that this year’s meeting was designed to attempt to tackle the cost component of the challenges in healthcare, he disclosed that efforts by their members to secure single digit interest rate on loans for investment in the health sector banks has repeatedly and unfortunately come against brick walls.

His words, “Against the World Health Organization’s recommendation that every nation devote 15 per cent of it GNP or GDP to health, Nigeria has spent only 4 per cent. The health sector in Nigeria needs what we may say or borrow from the US – a marshal plan of action because nothing less than that will do. This requires massive infusion of funds to enable the full recovery of that area”

Speaking, the Chairman of the Occasion, Sir. Steve Omojafor who posited that the only way to bring about the needed change in the health sector was by sanctioning Nigerians who use public funds for medical treatment abroad said “If government is to build confidence on its citizens on the state of its health facilities, irrespective of the illness. All government functionaries must receive medical care locally”.

In his submission, Chairman, Lagos State GMD, Dr. Toyin Oredugba hinted that they would send a high power delegation to the Presidency to make a case for single digit interest rate for health sector.

In his keynote address, the Minister for Trade and Tourism Mr. Olusegun Aganga represented by the Chairman, Board of Trustees of GMD, Dr. Ebun Sonaiya spoke extensively on the multiplier effects of synergic efforts in private health sector, stressed that even if loans were secured at Zero percent interest rate, would not make healthcare cheap.

Also, representative of the Commissioner for Health, Dr Femi Olugbile who is also the Permanent Secretary, Lagos State Ministry of Health, said any medical enterprise worth its salt must cost its services appropriately to get the equivalent value coming back to the system in order to sustain itself.

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