The National Association of Nigeria Nurses and Midwives (NANNM) has called upon President Bola Tinubu, who recently assumed office after winning the February 2023 presidential election, to take immediate action to revitalise the healthcare sector and prevent its imminent collapse. They specifically appealed to him to put an end to the longstanding deterioration in the sector.
During an interview with the press, Michael Nnachi, the National President of NANNM, highlighted the numerous challenges faced by the healthcare sector, particularly in relation to the nursing profession. He emphasised the need for President Tinubu to address the working conditions of health workers, especially nurses and midwives. Many healthcare professionals have been compelled to leave the country in search of better opportunities due to inadequate remuneration and unfavourable work environments.
Nnachi stressed the critical importance of the healthcare sector and called for immediate action to address its decay. He urged the Tinubu-led government to prioritise the condition of service for healthcare workers, emphasising that failure to do so could lead to a collapse of the sector, resulting in devastating consequences for the economy. He further emphasised that addressing the demands of healthcare workers, including ending strikes, was crucial for maintaining the stability of the healthcare system and preserving lives.
He said, “The health sector is a critical sector and as a result of that, my expectation is that the issue of decay should be addressed once and for all. I expect the Tinubu-led government to address issues that have to do with the condition of service and not allow the sector to collapse. If the health sector collapses, it will be a disaster for our economy. The conditions of services must be addressed. He should be able to address our demands to end the issue of the strike. If nurses go on strike for one day, the system will collapse and there will be loss of lives,” he added.
Furthermore, Nnachi highlighted the pivotal role of nurses and midwives in achieving Universal Health Coverage and Sustainable Development Goals. He emphasised the high-stress nature of their work, which can lead to burnout, compromised service delivery, increased morbidity and mortality rates, and mental health challenges.
In urging President Tinubu to take necessary action, Nnachi emphasised the importance of making the healthcare sector fully functional. He stressed the need for adequate equipment, sufficient manpower, and meeting the expectations of the average Nigerian.
He said, “The President should make the health sector functional. If our health sector becomes functional with all the necessary equipment and manpower, and the expectations of the average Nigerian are met, that will be okay. If the challenges are not addressed and we continue to have a brain drain, it might lead to the collapse of the health sector,” he noted.
According to NANNM, over the past five years, approximately 75,000 nurses and midwives have migrated from Nigeria due to poor wages and unfavorable work environments. A recent report by the United Nations Population Fund highlights a global shortage of 900,000 healthcare professionals, including nurses and midwives. Addressing this deficit could prevent a significant number of maternal and newborn deaths, saving millions of lives annually by 2035.