‘How insecurity worsens health sector woes’

The apex body of all medical doctors in Nigeria, the Nigerian Medical Association (NMA), has called on the government to checkmate security challenges in the country.

It said the problem impacts the health sector in the form of brain drain, industrial disputes, ineffective funding through overriding defence budgets, and a decline in efficiency and effectiveness of healthcare interventions.

NMA disclosed this in a communiqué, yesterday, after its National Executive Council (NEC) meeting in Benin City, Edo State. The statement was signed by the association’s President, Prof. Innocent Ujah, and Secretary-General, Dr. Philips Uche Ekpe.

The theme of the meeting was ‘Medical Practice in the face of National Insecurity: Implications for Nigerian Healthcare Indices’.

The Council urged the government to do more to stem the tide of insecurity, saying the menace cripples all developmental efforts. It also urged citizens to stop fanning the embers of discord.

It viewed with concern the poor welfare of its members in Abia, Imo, Ekiti, Ondo, and the Anambra States where monthly salaries of four to 20 months remain unpaid. It noted with dismay the withdrawal of healthcare service delivery in the affected states. The Council also called on the National Economic Council, Nigeria Governors’ Forum, National Council of Traditional Rulers, Nigeria Inter-Religious Council, and other stakeholders to intervene urgently before the matter escalates.

It warned that it may no longer guarantee industrial harmony if the salary arrears are not paid in the shortest possible time.

It noted with displeasure the circular removing House Officers and National Youth Service Corps (NYSC) doctors from the Scheme of Service. It said the appointment of Consultant Pharmacists without specific job descriptions is a recipe for the conflagration that could affect patient care and wipe away harmonious inter-professional relationships in the public health sector.

It reiterated its earlier commitment towards authenticating medical reports and certifications using the instrumentality of Doctors’ Stamp.

The Council expressed reservations at the slow progress being made by the Federal Government in arriving at a new hazard allowance for medical doctors and other health workers, commensurate to the level of risks in the sector. It mandated relevant committees of the Association to continue engagement till success is achieved.

The NMA said the Council plans to conduct an ‘operation show your current practicing licence’ in conjunction with the Medical and Dental Council of Nigeria (MDCN) and security agencies in the nearest future, to fish out illegal medical practitioners.

It, therefore, advised members to fulfill their obligations of yearly renewing practicing licences to avoid sanctions.

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