Health workers under the umbrella of Joint Health Sector Unions (JOHESU) have faulted the appointment of medical doctors only into key positions in the Federal Ministry of Health (FMoH) by President Muhammadu Buhari, alleging that the ‘lopsided’ appointments would aggravate the already volatile health sector.

President Buhari had recently appointed three medical doctors, Prof. Isaac Adewole as the Minister of Health; Dr Osagie Ebanire as Minister of State for Health and Dr Amina Shamaki as the Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Health.

In a letter by JOHESU titled, ‘Appraising Appointments in the Federal Ministry of Health’ addressed to the president, and made available to Business Hallmark,  the group noted with concern that while  the appointment of two medical doctors as ministers in charge of the Federal Ministry of Health equaled the precedence of former President Goodluck Jonathan, which the group said  catalyzed “unprecedented dislocation” of the component elements of the health sector in that dispensation, Buhari’s appointment of yet another medical doctor as the new permanent secretary in the FMoH worsened the “old Jonathan order” where the permanent secretary in the Federal Ministry of Health were always administrators or non-care providers.

The letter which was co-signed by the chairman, Joint Health Sector Unions, Comrade Jay Josiah and Chairman, Assembly of Healthcare Professional Associations (AHPA), Dr. G. C. Okara, stated in part: “Your Excellency, the appointment of two medical doctors as ministers in charge of the Federal Ministry of Health  equaled the precedence of former President Goodluck Jonathan, GCFR, which unfortunately catalyzed unprecedented dislocation of the component elements of the health sector in that dispensation.

“The only ameliorating balm in that discourse (the old Jonathan order) was that the permanent secretaries in charge of the Federal Ministry of Health were always administrators or non-care providers. Today even that has been taken away because the new permanent secretary of the Federal Ministry of Health is also a traditional strong advocate of the interests of only her medical doctor colleagues from her time as a permanent secretary in the office of the Head of Service of the Federation.”

It added that, “For a health sector where doctors hitherto reduced a supposed Federal Ministry of Health to a Ministry of Doctor to now be officially and legitimized as home to only doctors who constitute less than 5% of the workforce at the detriment of the majority of over 95% in our humble opinion Your Excellency, appears to epitomise neglects of the feelings of the gross majority of health workers and will aggravate the volatility in the sector instead of abating it.”

The group lamented that the woes of  health workers (apart from doctors) are compounded by the fact that the Federal Ministry of Labour and Productivity which ordinarily should arbitrate over their welfare demands is now headed by a  medical doctor in the person of Dr. Chris Ngige.

They, therefore, demand a balancing of the various appointments already made at the Federal Ministry of Health by appointment of healthcare providers of diverse backgrounds within the rank and file of its members as special adviser/special advisers on health to the president, in the interest of enduring peace in the health sector.

They also demand immediate approval of the adjustment of the CONHESS scale as was done with CONMESS scale since year January 2014 to pave way for implementation based on approvals in the 2016 budget.

BY UCHE AKOLISA