Medical doctors under the aegis of the Nigerian Medical Association (NMA) have faulted President Muhammadu Buhari and other top politicians’ regular medical trips abroad even as they blamed the situation on the poor state of the country’s health institutions.
President of NMA, Dr. Mike O. Ogirima, told The Guardian yesterday that the poor working conditions in the country’s apex health institutions, which has led to the continuous patronage of foreign hospitals by top government officials and increasing medical tourism to hospitals overseas by affluent Nigerians is the major reason why the NMA is backing the strike by the National Association of Resident Doctors (NARD).
Ogirima in a telephone chat threatened to take legal action and also going on strike if necessary if the Federal Government does not back down on its threat of sacking resident doctors who are on strike, which would worsen the health situation in the country.
The NMA President demanded an immediate withdrawal of the threat as contained in circular no. DHS/828/T/199 of January 19, 2017 issued by the Director of Health Services (DHS) of the Federal Ministry of Health to Chief Medical Directors and Medical Directors of Federal Tertiary Hospitals to employ temporary doctors to replace the members of NARD who are currently on a warning strike.
Ogirima said: “We are waiting what will happen by tomorrow, (which is Monday, today). The threat is unproductive. You want to do away with the professionals that are not even sufficient considering the population they serve. If the system is so fantastic why do the president and top government officials still go abroad for medical checks and treatment?
“Sacking of doctors will worsen the situation. If the federal government goes ahead with the threat, we will take full legal action against her; that will include instituting court case and going on strike if it became necessary after meeting with our members.”
The Chief Medical Director, Lagos University Teaching Hospital (LUTH) Idi Araba, Prof. Chris Bode, told The Guardian yesterday that 95 per cent of the resident doctors in the hospital are working.
“Our clinics are running, even the intensive care unit (ICU) is working at full capacity. We have not had course to resort to sacking any doctor. I commend them. However, we will compile the list of the five per cent that are not working and send to appropriate authorities. I also want to commend the consultants who are working.”
The NMA, umbrella body of all doctors in Nigeria and the custodian of the people’s health, has been mediating between the government and NARD to end the lingering crisis by putting the Nigerian health system back on the path to development.