There appears to be no way out for the logjam between the federal government and doctors in the country, as the Medical and Dental Consultants Association of Nigeria (MDCAN) yesterday threatened to join the Nigerian Medical Association (NMA) on its strike.
The doctors are protesting the government’s failure to withdraw the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) circular in favour of members of the Joint Health Sector Union (JOHESU) for the importation of medical equipment and the demand by JOHESU to be appointed as medical directors of government hospitals.
The threat by MDCAN came on the heels of the Minister of Health, Prof. Onyebuchi Chukwu’s appeal for the doctors to use dialogue in mitigating the challenges facing them rather than resorting to strikes.
Chukwu, speaking to THISDAY on the planned strike said, “We will try and dissuade them. Dialogue is the only way out,” he said.
MDCAN in a statement made available to journalists in Abuja, said it rejected what it described as unknown to medical professionalism, adding that “concessions made to JOHESU, allowing its members to be appointed as medical directors, among others” are inimical to a smooth running of the nation health system.
The circular recently issued by government following the agitation of JOHESU among others, provides for approval of consultancy positions for support staff; abolition of Deputy Chairman Medical Advisory Committee (DCMAC) position; appointment of support staff as directors; referral of the following to the Yayale Ahmed Committee; elimination of medical teachers from eligibility for headship of teaching hospitals; and re-interpretation of ‘medically qualified’ which is a key phrase in the University Teaching Hospital Act.
MDCAN in the statement signed by the President, Dr. Steven Oluwole and Secretary Dr. Aderemi Adeosun said it would be compelled to join NMA to withdraw its services, if government does not withdraw its concession to JOHESU after the expiration of 14-days notice by NMA.
MDCAN maintained that, “the ultimatum of the NMA to government on JOHESU matters is noted. While MDCAN remains committed to its policy of ensuring uninterrupted health services, it will comply with directives to withdraw services should government allow the situation to deteriorate to the extent that NMA will have no credible alternatives.
“In the interest of patient care, government should stop playing politics with professional health issues and put on hold all circulars that have been released to please JOHESU,” it said.
The statement added that JOHESU should be prevented from inventing Nigerian type of medical services that will expose the nation to ridicule internationally.
That MDCAN will provide all moral and logistic support to the NMA to ensure success of any action it deems fit to restore sanity to the health sector.
MDCAN further appealed to the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC), Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU), Nigerian Bar Association (NBA), and the Nigerian Union of Journalists (NUJ) to take “critical look at the needless anarchy in the health sector and the attendant consequences on health care delivery and training of medical students.”