Peoples Digest Online- The Nigerian Medical Association (NMA), on Monday, reacted to the new policy of the Federal Government banning medical doctors, in public health institutions, from engaging in private practices during working hours, describing such as ‘illegal’. The association also asked the Federal Government to come out clear and define what it meant by working hours because according to it, doctors in public hospitals were already working more that the 40 units required by law.
NMA’s National President, Prof. Mike Ogirima, a Professor of Orthopaedics and Trauma Surgery, stated this while addressing a press conference, in Ilorin, Kwara State, to mark the 2017 Physicians’ . The theme for the 20017 Physicians week is ‘‘Declining Immunization Coverage: Threat to National Development and Security, Way Forward’’.
According to him, ‘‘the attempt to stop private practice by doctors working in public health institution is against the law of the land. NMA frowns at our members who use the working hours to attend to their private clinics/hospitals .Government should enforce the law by reconstituting the Medical and Dental Council of Nigeria, MDCN. Government must not dissolve the MDCN without immediate reconstruction, we want it in perpetuity. NMA will work in tandem with the government to discipline erring members subjecting them to MDCN’s disciplinary tribunal which has since being in limbo because of lack of MDCN’’
Speaking further the NMA president lamented that in the last two weeks, the NMA had lost six members because they were ‘‘overwhelmed with work overload and had stress related death’’. He said currently doctors in Nigeria were working below the World Health Organisation (WHO)’s standard which prescribed a ratio of one doctor (1: 600) patients as against one doctor to over to over 200, 000 (1 : over 200,000) patients obtainable in Nigeria.
‘‘By law, doctors are supposed to work for only 40 units, we have doctors working for up to 80 units ,If you want me to work more that 40 units, pay me for more than 40 units. So if you want to enforce it, maybe we should start from there’’, Ogirima said . He decried a situation where government at the states and federal level claimed they don’t have money to employ doctors but embark on ‘‘white elephants projects which some of them may not even complete, it’s a shame for this country.’’
Reflecting on the theme for the 2017 Physicians’ week which he said ‘‘calls for sober reflection’’, the NMA president said,‘‘The 2006/2017 National Immunization coverage survey indicates that only 33 percent of children 12-23 months of age had 3 doses of prevalent vaccine against the global target of 90 percent and only 23 percent were fully immunized .40 per cent do not receive any vaccines from health system .
‘‘The implication of this finding is that large population of our children particularly under 5 years of are unprotected and are therefore at risk of dying from vaccine preventable diseases such as measles ,diphtheria ,pertsusis, tuberculosis and also in infectious risk to other children in near and distant places’’ . He urged Nigerians to disregard rumour making the rounds that government was injecting poisonous substances in children through immunization saying such rumours were not true.
The NMA president regretted that the recent world health report which ranked Nigeria third among the nations with high mortality rates ‘‘was a bad one’’ for the country. He said the NMA would step up aggressive enlighten and advocacy campaign to correct the situation and urged the media to partner it in the projects.