by Oge Okonkwo
The Nigerian Medical Association has suspended its proposed industrial action which was scheduled to begin on Monday, January 6, saying it would evaluation its current stance by February 7.
The new development was announced at a press briefing in Abuja by the NMA president, Osahon Enabulele.
“The Emergency National Executive Committee of the NMA has resolved to suspend for now her earlier directive to all medical and dental practitioners in Nigeria to withdraw their services from Monday January 6, 2014 to allow for full implementation of all the elements of the MOU within the government set time lines. Accordingly, all medical and dental practitioners nationwide are hereby directed to continue to render their normal and highly cherished services to the lovely and caring people of Nigeria,” Mr. Enabulele stated.
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He added that the decision to suspend the strike had been a hard one to take.
“This to us is a very great sacrifice that has been made by our members. In taking this decision, like I earlier told you, we had to take into cognisance certain items in the MOU. By February 7th, we would be meeting and by then the NMA would be in a good position to reappraise the government’s progress. After that, the NMA would be able to address the public,” he said.
Demands and industrial action
At the expiration of its 4th extended 21-day ultimatum to the Federal Government, the NMA had risen from an Emergency Delegates Meeting, EDM, in Minna, Niger State on December 14, 2013, and directed all medical and dental practitioners in Nigeria’s public health sector to embark on a five-day warning strike.
The strike took place from December 18 to December 22 after which the association stated that it would proceed on a more definite strike on January 6 if government failed to address its demands.
The demands included funding of healthcare in Nigeria and expansion of UniversalHealth Coverage to cover all Nigerians, health infrastructural upgrade, review of injustice done to doctors in terms of workplace conditions/conditions of service, and other health sector challenges.
Consequently, the association convened an emergency National Executive Council, E-NEC, meeting in Abuja on January 4 to review the efforts made so far to address its demands.
In attendance were the state and Abuja branches of the NMA, affiliate bodies as well as the association’s immediate past presidents and elders within the medical profession.
FG to appoint Surgeon-General, tackle training deficit
Mr. Enabulele also disclosed that the President, Goodluck Jonathan, had made a firm commitment to appoint a Surgeon-General of the Federation whose roles will undoubtedly help to address some of the problems within the health sector.
The Surgeon-General’s functions would include tackling the burgeoning negative impact of medical tourism on Nigeria, amongst other responsibilities.
The doctors’ president also said training of resident doctors was now being taken seriously as it is currently handled by the Federal Ministry of Health.
“A committee has been constituted and issues related to that are already being addressed. I want to assure you that 2014 budget captures some amount for residency training though it’s not enough; it’s lesser than the 0.6 per cent of last year. The issue of funding is being taken seriously and the government is ensuring that it is being resolved amicably,” he said.