By Katurak Yashim
The Nigerian Medical Association (NMA) has called on the National Economic Council (NEC) and Nigeria Governors Forum (NGF) to intervene in addressing doctors’ welfare challenges to prevent a collapse of industrial harmony.
The NMA made the appeal in a communique issued at the end of the association’s National Executive Council (NEC) meeting held in Edo from Aug. 22 to Aug. 28.
The communique was signed by Prof. Innocent Ujah, the NMA President, and Dr Philips Ekpe, the NMA Secretary-General, and issued on Tuesday in Abuja.
The association also called on the National Council of Traditional Rulers and the Nigeria Inter-Religious Council to urgently intervene on the matter before it escalates.
The association stated that it would not be able to guarantee industrial harmony if the Federal Government fails to pay the salary arrears owed to doctors in some states.
“Council viewed with deep concern the poor welfare of its members in Abia, Imo, Ekiti, Ondo and Anambra States, where monthly salaries ranging from four to 20 months remain unpaid resulting in suffering and deprivation.
“Council also notes with dismay the impact of the withdrawal of healthcare service delivery in these states including the training of medical students at the states’ teaching hospitals.
“The Association calls on the National Economic Council (NEC), the Nigeria Governors Forum (NGF), National Council of Traditional Rulers, and the Nigeria Inter-Religious Council.
“It also calls on other stakeholders to as a matter of urgency intervene now before the matter escalates, as the NMA may no longer guarantee industrial harmony if the salary arrears are not paid in the shortest possible time,” the communiqué read in part.
The association criticised the federal government’s slow progress in developing a new hazard allowance for medical doctors and other health workers to commensurate with the level of risk in the health sector.
The association described the circulars stopping salary payment for doctors in academics and removing house officers and NYSC doctors from the scheme of service as ‘provocative’.
“The NMA rejects these circulars and advises the Office of the Head of Civil Service of the Federation (OHCSF) to take immediate steps to withdraw them.
“The association vowed to explore all legal avenues to reverse some of the federal government’s decisions concerning medical professionals in academia.
“Council observes the exclusion of holders of Medical Fellowship from vying for Vice Chancellorship positions in some universities.
“The exclusion is being done on the premise that medical fellowship is a professional qualification and not a degree equivalent of PhD.
“Council notes with pride that the curriculum content of the fellowship programmes, which encompasses both academic and professional aspects exceed any other curriculum for postgraduate programmes in Nigeria.
“The council vows to pursue this matter using all lawful means to reverse the unfair disenfranchisement of its members in the academia from attaining the apex of academic leadership position,” it added
The association hinted that to expose illegal medical practitioners, it would soon conduct an “operation show your current practicing license”.
It said that the action would be carried out in collaboration with the Medical and Dental Council of Nigeria (MDCN) and security agencies in the country.
The association urged members to always renew their licenses to avoid embarrassment and getting sanctioned.
The NMA NEC meeting was organised with the theme “Medical Practice in the Face of National Insecurity: Implications for Nigerian Healthcare Indices”. (NAN)