Prof. Edmund Banwat, the Chief Medical Director, Jos University Teaching Hospital (JUTH), on Sunday called on the Federal Government to privatise public hospitals to check incessant strikes and boost efficiency.
Banwat made the call in an interview with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in Jos.
“Privatisation, as the solution to the crises in the health sector, has been an idea for sometimes now; I subscribe to it and suggest that public health institutions be privatised for efficiency.”
Banwat said health institutions being patronised by rich Nigerians in India, Europe and America were private-owned, stressing that such institutions could not have been so effective if they were owned and controlled by government.
He said privatising the hospitals would check strikes, adding, “such strikes have become embarrassing.
“All medical professionals have taken vows to save lives, but that has been thrown to dogs in the pursuit for vain gains.
“Workers in the public health institutions are permanent and pensionable and hardly bother because their salaries and promotions are always guaranteed; the situation cannot be so in a privatised setting.
“No private investor will allow his staff to go on strike and leave the hospital to go fallow. If you leave your office, you will be replaced by people willing and ready to work.”
Banwat said privatisation would encourage competition and innovation as every hospital would strive to outdo the other to excel and attract more patronage.
He said privatisation would reduce out-of-stock syndrome in drug supplies, while wastage and leakages would be checked.
The medical director said patients would get “proper and maximum attention” in such privatised settings, while problems of poor funding would be reduced as investors would plough back their earnings into the institution to improve quality.
“In Europe, doctors and other health workers are not allowed into the hospital with their phones; the idea is to minimise any distraction while on duty. I want to see that in Nigeria,” he added.
Banwat said that privatisation would also encourage increased revenue generation as cashiers would pay more attention to all details.
He said money would also be saved as overhead costs of running public health institutions were always heavy.
He said privatising public hospitals would spare more money for government to deploy to other sectors, while foreign exchange being expended for medical trips abroad could be conserved.
The director also said that privatising the hospitals would reduce inter professional rivalry which continued to work against unity for efficiency among health professionals in the country.
On the argument that privatisation would cost jobs, He said that more jobs would instead be created because more hands would be needed to handle the many tasks in the affected hospitals.
“Ẁe have same fear when communication services were to be privatised; we feared that NITEL will throw out so many people, but the GSM outfits have now engaged more people.”
He also dismissed fears that health professionals may not earn much in a private setting.
“I believe that there will be higher competition for quality hands in a private setting. Salaries will, therefore,be more competitive as hospitals will struggle to employ and retain the best.
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