COMMUNIQUE ISSUED AT THE END OF THE NATIONAL EXECUTIVE COUNCIL (NEC) MEETING OF THE NIGERIAN MEDICAL ASSOCIATION (NMA) HELD IN BENIN CITY, EDO STATE FROM 22ND TO 28TH AUGUST, 2021
The Nigerian Medical Association (NMA) held its National Executive Council (NEC) meeting at the HomeVille Plus Hotel Benin City, Edo State from the 22nd to 28th August, 2021. The theme of the meeting was "Medical Practice in the face of National Insecurity: Implications for Nigerian Healthcare Indices."
There were courtesy visits to notable personalities in the State including HRM, Omo N'Oba n Edo Uku Akpobkpolo Oba Ewuare II The Oba of Benin; Sir this (Dr) Gabriel Osawaru Igbinedion, The Esama of Benin Kingdom; and Professor Darlington Obaseki the thief Medical Director (CMD), University of Benin Teaching Hospital (UBTH). There were some social activities and an elaborate opening ceremony with the presentation of the theme lecture by Professor. Friday Okonofua, FAS, FNAmed. Present at the opening ceremony were the Honorable Minister of Health, Dr. Osagie Ehanire who was represented by Professor. Darlington Obaseki, the CMD of UBTH, HRM the Oba of Benin, and the Vice Chancellor of the University of Benin, who were both represented.
ISSUES DISCUSSED: OBSERVATIONS AND RESOLUTIONS
3.1 The Theme of the NEC Meeting:
Council identified the several forms of insecurity plaguing the country, to include terrorism, insurgency, banditry, separatist agitations, religious intolerance, etc., and their multifactorial effects such as dwindling economy, injustice, poverty, weak criminal justice system, and corruption, amongst others. It further noted the impact on the health sector in the form of worsening brain drain, industrial disputes, ineffective funding of the sector through burgeoning overriding defence budgets, deadline in the efficiency and effectiveness of healthcare interventions. Council urges the government to do more to stem the tide of insecurity as it cripples every other developmental effort; it also urged the citizens to stop fanning embers of discord, acrimony and ethno-religious separatist tendencies.
3.2 Review of Progress in the Last Four Months (May to August 2021)
The Association noted that satisfactory progress was made in its internal matters in the period under review including but not limited to preparing and presenting quality memoranda on several critical Bills and Motions at the National Assembly, participation in the activities of the Medical and Dental Council of Nigeria (MDCN), the ongoing construction at the permanent site of NMA national headquarters in Maitama Abuja, and the mediation in the ongoing industrial disputes involving some of her Affiliates including, MDCAN, NARD, and MEDSABAMS. Council expressed appreciation to its members for their unflinching support.
3.3 State of Welfare of Members and quality of Healthcare Delivery in some States of the Federation
Council viewed with deep concern the poor welfare of its members in Abia, Imo, Ekiti, Ondo and Anambra States where monthly salaries ranging from 4 to 20 months remain unpaid resulting in sufferings and deprivations. Also noted with dismay by Council is the impact of withdrawal of healthcare service delivery in those 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, as well as other stakeholders to as a matter of urgency intervene now before the matter escalates, as it may no longer guarantee industrial harmony if the salary arrears are not paid in the shortest possible time.
3.4 Status of the Circulars of Contention from the Office of the Head of Civil Service of the Federation (OHCSF)
Council noted with displeasure the Circular removing House Officers and NYSC doctors from the Scheme of Service. It further notes the deleterious effect of the implication of the appointment of Consultant Pharmacists without specific job description and clear definition of roles in the Nigeria's health system, which it describes as a recipe for conflagration which will affect patient care as well as wipe away harmonious inter-professional relationship in the public health sector. Furthermore, the Council observed as provocative the stoppage of salary payment for doctors in academics using the CONMESS scale and firmly rejects these Circulars once again and advises the OHCSF to take immediate steps to withdraw them
3.5 The Status Report on the Use of the Doctor's Stamp
The Council reiterates its earlier commitment towards authenticating medical reports and certifications using the instrumentality of the Doctors' Stamp and mandates the NOC to fast-track the processes towards its wider adoption and usage in order to reduce the huge number of quacks currently in the system.
3.6 PhD versus Fellowship in Relation to Pre-Qualification for Vice Chancellorship Positions in some Universities
Council observed the exclusion of holders of Medical Fellowship from vying for the Vice Chancellorship positions in some Universities on the premise that Medical Fellowship is a professional qualification and not a degree equivalent of PhD as retrogressive and uninformed. Council notes with pride that the curriculum content of the Fellowship programmes, which encompasses both academic and professional aspects, are far in excess of any other curriculum for any postgraduate programme in any university in Nigeria, including the PhD programmes, and regrets the high level of ignorance and mischief perpetuated by the purveyors of this ill-advised division in the academia. It vows to pursue the matter using all lawful means to reverse the unfair disenfranchisement of its members in the academia from attaining the apex of academic leadership position.
3.7 Negotiation on the Adjustment of Hazard Allowance
Council reviewed with reservations 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 health sector. It further mandates the relevant Committees of the Association in conjunction with the NOC to continue the engagement till success is achieved.
3.8 Payment of Practicing Licence by Registered Practitioners of the MDCN
Council plans to conduct an "operation show your current practicing licence" in conjunction with MDCN and the security agencies in the nearest future to fish out illegal medical practitioners. It therefore, advises all members of the Association to fulfill their obligations of annual practicing licence renewal in order to avoid embarrassment and other sanctions through this legitimate supervisory duty of MDCN.
3.9 Ongoing NARD Strike
Council painstakingly reviewed and chronicled the various negotiation meetings between NARD and the federal government and bemoaned the unconscionable developments that have followed despite the interventions of the leadership of NMA. Consequently, Council specifically resolved that the Federal Government be put on a 21-day notice to implement all the agreements in the MOU signed by the NMA and its Affiliates after which it will convene an Emergency Delegates' Meeting (EDM) to review the level of progress with a view to taking necessary steps to ensure full implementation.
Council profoundly appreciates the Government of Edo State, the Oba of Benin, the Esama of Benin Kingdom, the Vice Chancellor of the University of Benin, the CMD of UBTH, renowned scholar and theme speaker Prof. Friday Okonofua, FAS, FNAmed, the Edo State Branch of the NMA, and all other individuals and organisations that contributed in one way or the other, to the success of meeting.
Prof. Innocent A.O. Ujah, FNMA, FNAmed, mni
Nigerian Medical Association
Dr. Philips Uche Ekpe
Nigeria Medical Association