THE Medical and Dental Consultants’ Association of Nigeria (MDCAN) has accused the Federal Government of planning to use military and para-military medical doctors to frustrate the on-going strike, which has been on for about a month now.
The doctors who are presently on strike are working in their private hospitals were they defraud less privileged Nigerians of their hard-earned monies as privileged Nigerians no longer use public hospitals because of the poor services of doctors.
Unfortunately, the main demand of the doctors is their vehement refusal that Pharmacists, Medical Laboratory Scientists and Nurses be referred as consultants in their respective fields. The doctors insist that only them be referred to as consultants in the medical profession. This practice is at variance with international best practices.
President of MDCAN, Dr. Steve Oluwole, said in Abuja yesterday that government was up to some sinister moves, instead of finding a genuine approach to solving the issues that led to the strike.
Oluwole drew attention to an alleged plan by government to proscribe the Nigerian Medical Association (NMA), noting that such moves would further compound the problems of the sector.
He said: “The attention of the MDCAN is drawn to the purported plan of the Federal Government to take drastic steps to end the current NMA strike. Unnamed government officials have disclosed to the media that the government is considering proscription of the NMA”.
He alleged that government was toying with the idea, to enable it deploy the military to guard the medical institutions with military and para-military medical professionals rendering services in the mean time.
Oluwole also alleged that the plan include the privatisation of all public health institutions and the enforcement of a ‘no work no pay’ principle, while doctors who are interested would allegedly be protected to resume duties and new ones employed to take their place.
He alleged: “The interview of the Minister of Health that was published in The Guardian on Friday, July 25, 2014, indicate the position of the Ministry of Health regarding the current crisis. The position of the Ministry of Health that “we do not want to take drastic steps…”, and “… there are things government can do to have its way by force” , “ … declare positions of those on strike vacant and replace them with unemployed and retired doctors …” give credibility to rumours and threats of proscription.
“The propositions of agents of government should deeply worry anyone fairly familiar with the organisation of multi-tier health services for a country. Before the NMA declared the strike, the MDCAN implored government to look professionally, but not politically at all the issues. Unfortunately, there is little evidence that such had been done.
“Are there no laws that establish the tertiary health institutions? Will privatisation of teaching hospitals fulfill the objectives for which they were established? Private hospitals are for profit rather than for training and research. Will they serve the primary functions as defined in the Acts that established the hospitals?”
He asked: “Will the Ministry of Health find suitable replacement for all specialities in Teaching Hospitals, from unemployed doctors and retired doctors? Will the Ministry of Health reconstitute the entire health system even if it is intended that foreign doctors will be imported? The assumption that MDCAN members, who are currently restrained by court order will capitulate is erroneous.”