by Oke Efagene
The Nigerian Medical Association (NMA), has directed all medical doctors to begin a nationwide strike on Wednesday, December 18.
According to the NMA president, Osahon Enabulele, the strike is in recognition of the extremely poor progress in the resolution of the demands of the association, as well as the expiration of the ultimatum issued to the Federal Government, which has expired on Saturday, December 14.
He said, “The association is constrained to declare an industrial action with effect from Wednesday, December 18, 2013. Accordingly, doctors in public health institutions shall withdraw their services with effect from 8 am on Wednesday, December 18, 2013”
This was made known in a communiqué issued by the NMA after a week-long 2013 December National Executive Council (NEC) Meeting (“Minna 2013”), Emergency Delegates Meeting (EDM), as well as the 1st Senator (Dr) Dalyop Gyang Dantong Memorial Lecture.
According to the President of the association, for over five months now, the NMA has recurrently engaged the Federal Government through the Federal Ministry of Health, Head of the Civil Service of the Federation and the Secretary to the Government of the Federation, on issues bordering on some health sector challenges, workplace conditions and the conditions of service of doctors.
Enabulele said, “On September 2, 2013, the NMA issued a 21-day-ultimatum to the Federal Government of Nigeria to address the issues tabled by the association. However, based on the understanding reached following the intervention of the Minister of Labour and Productivity, Chief Emeka Wogu, the NMA decided to extend her ultimatum by four weeks at her emergency National Executive Council (NEC) meeting held in Abuja on September 22, 2013.
“Following the expiration of the additional four weeks grace granted to the Federal Government, the NMA again magnanimously extended twice the ultimatum on account of the Government’s constitution of a Presidential Committee and promise to speedily resolve the issues contained in the requests of the NMA.
Sadly, since the report of the Presidential Committee was submitted to the Secretary to the Government of the Federation, only the re-constitution and inauguration of the Medical and Dental Council of Nigeria (MDCN) has been realised. The inauguration of MDCN which took place on November 25, 2013 was even after the Government reneged on an earlier signed agreement with NMA to reconstitute and inaugurate MDCN within 21 days (that is, by September 30, 2013).
“There has been no significant attention by the government to other issues bordering on workplace conditions and injustice meted out to doctors in their conditions of service and funding/ infrastructural and equipment upgrade of the health sector.”
Continuing, he said, “The Association noted her patriotic efforts to further engage the leadership of the Federal Ministry of Health (following the invitation of the Honourable Minister of Health to a meeting) even at the eleventh hour but which collapsed following the unserious attitude of the leadership of the Federal Ministry of Health who seem less bordered about the potential crisis that was bound to erupt from Saturday, December 14, 2013.”
However, Enabulele said, in recognition of the yuletide season and the appeals of well-meaning Nigerians and friends in the fourth estate of the realm, the withdrawal of services in this first instance shall be for a period of five days but shall recommence after the yuletide season.
Bemoaning the abysmal low percentage health coverage of Nigerians put at about six per cent, the NMA called on the government to urgently invest more in the health of Nigerians through a Universal Health Fund in recognition of the fact that achieving Universal Health Coverage was fundamental to ensuring adequate health care for Nigerians.
The NMA also restated the urgent need for government to sponsor a Hospital Development and Intervention Fund (HDIF) in the health industry to drive the development of modern and world class health infrastructure in the country and stem capital flight as a result of medical tourism.
Congratulating Dr Godwin Nosa Bazuaye and his team in the achievement of a second successful stem cell transplant in a 15 year old Nigerian with Sickle cell disorder, with his conversion from HBSS genotype to HBAA genotype, the NMA acknowledged the success of her National Committee on Stem Cell Transplant and Genetic Engineering in organising a hugely successful International Scientific Workshop at UBTH, Benin in collaboration with the Benin Blood and Bone Marrow Transplant Society (BBTS).