On 29 August, the new government of President Muhammad Buhari clocked three months in office. Within these three months, there has been a lot of public debate on the direction or lack of it of the new administration.
One thing however has been established concerning the body language of the president – the government is not only determined in fighting corruption but is also probing the misdeeds of past public office holders.
Although much of the inquisition has been centered on the alleged wrongdoing in the oil sector and arms purchase contracts, it is important that this new government’s quest for probity and accountability be extended to all sectors in the country, including health.
For the health sector, the agitation over the years has been poor funding, with the nation consistently falling short in meeting the WHO’s recommendation of allocating 15 per cent of the annual national budget to the health sector. With the rot in the health sector, especially the collapse of infrastructure in our health institutions, the demand for proper funding is no doubt laudable.
However, beyond poor funding, it is imperative to ensure there is more probity and accountability in the health sector to ensure that whatever is allocated to the sector is judiciously used for what it is meant for.
If there is a sector that should consistently play by the rules, it must be the health sector because when things go wrong in the sector, lives are lost and redeemable conditions end up in terrible complications.
The health sector has never been squeaky clean on allegations of corruption. There have been allegations of corruption against virtually all the health agencies in the country. In as much as allegations is nothing until properly investigated and established in a court of law, it is important to ensure that our health institutions are not tainted with allegations of corruption and arbitrariness.
The Buhari government needs to give direction to this crucial sector by ensuring that whoever is appointed the health minister is not a square peg in a round hole and this should cascade through all appointments or recruitments in all agencies within the sector.
It must also be emphasised that failing to ensure equity in the working relationship among the various health care professionals in the health sector is also a form of corruption.The health sector – a multidisciplinary sector can only thrive when there is justice and fairness among all health care professionals.
There were several strike actions and rancorous exchanges in the health sector under the immediate past administration because the government failed to ensure fairness in the way it dealt with issues affecting the various health professionals.
The Buhari government must avoid the mistake of past administrations and encourage collaboration among health care professionals.The health sector and by extension, the country can only move to the next level when we banish corruption and arbitrariness as well as ensure justice and fairness in all our processes.