The President, Nigerian Medical Association, Prof. Mike Ogirima, on Monday said the attempt by the Federal Government to stop private practice by doctors working in public health institutions was against the law of the land.
He, however, said the NMA frowned on its members who use official hours for their private practice.
He urged the government to enforce the laws by reconstituting the Medical and Dental Council of Nigeria, adding that government must not dissolve the MDCN without immediate reconstitution.
Ogirima spoke on Monday in Ilorin, the Kwara State capital, during the 2017 Physicians’ Week, with the theme, ‘Declining immunisation coverage in Nigeria: Threat to national development.’
He said the NMA would discipline errant members of the group by subjecting them to MDCN’s disciplinary tribunal, which had since been in limbo.
The NMA boss lamented that the association lost some doctors who, he claimed, were overwhelmed with workload and stress-related issues. He stated that in the past two weeks, no fewer than six doctors had died. Ogirima said one of the dead doctors was Dr. Linda Nwigwe, who collapsed few days to her wedding.
Other dead doctors, he said, were a senior registrar at the Federal Teaching Hospital, Dr. Popoola Abiola; a public health officer with Rivers State, Dr. Chizi Ikeka; and a house officer with the Federal Medical Centre, Keffi, Dr. Esther James, who was said to have died 24 hours after concluding her call.
Others, he said, included a former Public Relations Officer of the National Association of Resident Doctors, Dr. Popoola Zakarriya, who was said to have died seven days ago from stroke and a resident doctor with the Federal Medical Centre, Keffi, Dr. Amos Jarafu, who was said to have been found lifeless in his hotel room in Zaria after sitting for primary examination the previous day.
He said doctors in Nigeria were working below the World Health Organisation’s standard which prescribed a ratio of one doctor to 600 patients as against one doctor to over 200,000 patients obtainable in Nigeria.
On the lingering conflict in the health sector, he said, “We may be compelled to take a nationwide simultaneous holiday from the public hospitals for paramedics to run them if urgent steps are not taken by the authorities to curtail the excesses of the JOHESU’s radicalism.
“It must be stated quite clearly that the NMA is not aversed to improvement of welfare package in the health sector, however, pay parity must necessarily factor in the relative difference in favour of medical doctors as it is predictable in developed countries.
“We expect government not to toy with the lingering crisis in the health sector. Government should not allow itself to be intimidated by illegal bodies like JOHESU in the health sector. We expect each professional body to stick to the ethics of it profession.”
On immunisation, he said, “The 2006/2017 National Immunization coverage survey indicates that only 33 per cent of children between 12 and 23 months old had three doses of vaccine against the global target of 90 per cent and only 23 per cent were fully immunised. Forty per cent do not receive any vaccines from health system.”
Ogirima lamented that a large population of Nigerian children particularly under five years of age were unprotected and therefore at the risk of dying from vaccine preventable diseases such as measles, diphtheria, pertusis and tuberculosis.