It has become very important to address the press at this auspicious and trying time when our nation's health industry is in chaos. The state of the nation as regards national health care services is in pandemonium which has shown in the situation that has no peace due to happenings traceable to the fact that the health sector has been mismanaged.
The situation we have on ground has shown the whole nation who among the health care professionals group is sacrificing to sustain the health sector and those that are using the circumstances to enrich themselves and for personal aggrandizement at the expense of the nation. Who is the patriot? It is pertinent to make some analysis about the ongoing strike of our counterparts, the medical and dental practitioners.
THE INCESSANT STRIKES: The whole atmosphere is pervaded with uncertainty and lack of direction by the self-acclaimed leaders of the health sector. To put it simply and precisely, the strike embarked upon by members of Nigeria Medical Association is a reflection of injustice, inequity, mal- administration, reign of impunity, illegality, over-indulgence and misplaced privileges that has characterized health 'care service administration in this country. It became pronounced most especially from the time of late Prof. Olikoye Ransome Kuti and become highly entrenched with the current Minister for Health, Professor Oyebuchi Chukwu who has never denounced the fact that he is an extension of NMA leadership. He has always shown in very clear terms that he has only come not for all health care professionals but for the members of his profession as if he has forgotten that beside been a minister of the federal republic, the most important responsibility he was charged when appointed and sworn into office was to drive a process of returning harmony into health sector but situation has unfortunately been worsened. The Nigerians that are keen followers of events in health sector can lay credence to this. The whole of health sector have been plagued by the heavy presence of members of NMA dictating the pace and direction of affairs at the Federal Ministry of Health abdicating their primary responsibility to create artifiCial scarcity in their most needed areas, the 56 Teaching Hospitals; Federal medical Centres and Specialist Hospitals, all Government Agencies which have becomes gold mines has been turned into personal birth right. The scenario I pictured as incapable leadership that has truncated and stunted all the prospect and fortune of Nigeria health sector. They created and nurtured medical tourism for reason of incompetence the very menace they pretend to. be finding solution to. In summary, the current strike is an aberration, illegal and is a signal that health sector has been unfortunate to have this crop of self - centered class of professionals to handle the Nigeria health sector. It is a form of elite insurgency, 'Medico - Boko Haram'. Honestly I personally do not know how else to describe their 24 point 'command' I mean what supposed to be demand that are not capable of addressing needs of Nigeria health sector challenges but rather to meet a parochial interest at the detriment of the generality. They are most favoured, the highly pampered group not because they deserve it but due to a narrow-minded belief that the Nigeria public have also compounded. If I have to comment on each of their request one after the other you will agree with me that this strike is a well-planned conspiracy and unwarranted terrorism on the whole Nigeria public.
The whole process is illegal which the government at all levels is aiding and abetting. The point am stressing is that the body calling for the strike is known and recognized as professional entity. NMA is not a registered Trade Union, based on this; the government ought not to meet with them to negotiate anything, but in contravening the Laws of the Federal Republic of Nigeria which they put in place. How do we then blame common citizen for not obeying the government law? The Federal Ministry of Health who are the principal conspirators has implicated the Federal Government by playing roles as the employing authority and silently as member of NMA, what ironing. If the FMOH is sincerely desirous of preventing the current situation they know how to do it. Am sure if it were other health workers that are on strike before now the Hon. Minister of Health would have instructed the CMDs to terrorize, intimidate and dehumanize the leaders of other health workers Union, sometimes using law enforcement agents, invoke no work no pay and or head for the NIC to restrain the health workers not to go on strike at all or to have brought them back to work through court injunction. You can judge the indulgence on one hand and high handedness on the other, injustice that is playing back. This is the basis of my assertion that the strike is a form of conspiracy. The ideal thing all over the world is to organize a stakeholders meeting to discuss the issue of common interest, but what we have seen over the time is to just see circulars emanating from the government. The FMOH are of the habit of stage managing crises, the watch dog of the NMA in the garb of key government officials will appear to be on the side of government but work for their counterparts committing the government and allowed to be stampede into taking decision not only on issues concerning NMA members alone but transgressing their judicial bounds to take decisions on issues concerning the fate of other health professionals. The point here is that most of the people that are supposed to be sincerely committed to the FGN are seen to be working behind the scene to commit the FGN to the detriment of the government and people of Nigeria. The level of the war these collaborators are waging against government and people of Nigeria is so colossal that if known the public must change their view on the make belief that they are working for the general good of the nation. They work within the government to fight the government they sworn to defend. Each time they want to go on strike they put forward some issues on lack of adequate infrastructure, deficiencies in the system etc., but under the open issue there are underline agenda.
If you critically scrutinize the numerous demands of the NMA, there are embedded in it many of their command or dictate that has to do with rights and privileges of other health workers. Like the claim that all other health workers are not to be appointed as consultant in the teaching hospitals. What a deluded view. This claim does not follow any regulation but wishful thinking that if it could be achieved then it will be easy to further subjugate other professionals that have their own autonomy, body of knowledge, scope of practice and even academic attainment to be qualified for the appointment. The international best practices are that all professionals have consultants in their respective fields. We have consultant nurses, pharmacist, physiotherapist and Laboratory Scientist in their area of specialization and expertise.
For Nurses we have consultant in critical care, medico-surgical, mental health, ear- nose and throat, anesthesia, pediatrics, informatics, Ophthalmic nursing just to mention but a few fields of specialization. This is fact that can be confirmed from other countries, this is a world information technology. What the government and people of Nigeria should know is that the claims of the NMA today have the route traceable to those era in Nigeria when there were no indigenous practitioners, the available professionals then' were foreigners and they were then been remunerated with expatriates salary, now that we are having our indigenous practitioners that we use government resources to train, must we continue to subjected to the agony of producing our own product? It is only medical and dental practitioners that are been treated in a context of the foreign condition of service.
How can medical doctors insist on superintends over another professionals like nurse, pharmacist and others. This is professional oligarchy, which cannot be seen elsewhere except in Nigeria, absolute power and authority is said to corrupt absolutely. You can imagine professional neo-colonialism and imperialism in our own fathers land in the computer age. The appointment of a consultant is an issue that cannot be suppressed any longer, if other develop countries do it and they are better for it why must Nigeria be an exception. You should be able to detect that the fear of any other person challenging their authority or competition as 'its happening elsewhere. Health is a multidisciplinary sector not like the Ministry of justice where Law is the required field of study to be eligible to practice. The reference to university setting within ASU and NASU, where the NMA are comparing other health professionals to non-academic staff on the right to become Vice Chancellor is misleading not comparable.
Why should a competent professional be afraid of working with another colleague? -A professor in medicine, nursing, pharmacy, Laboratory sciences or physiotherapy are authorities in their own chosen field and I do not see how their claim that even if you are a professor in another field such person should subjugate their skill and academic prowess to a student in medicine, where is that done all over the world.
The pettiness that profession are now upgrading the training of their professionals requiring them to acquire Doctor of sciences in their field should not answer their title because a less trained person has abandoned their rightful name of physician to arrogate the name doctor must monopolize the name/ title. You can see how petty the supposed leader of sensitive health sector is!
The universal practice is that health care delivery is a team work and whoever among the eligible should be counted as fit for the job of leading the team. We have tried the leadership under a single profession which has led to sacrificing merit at the foot of mediocrity. The highest job becomes the birth right whether you have the pre-requisite qualification, emotional intelligence, leadership capability or not. This is what has always led to administrative lapses in our health system. There must be change to turn around the health sector.
On the issue of appointment of Surgeon General, must this cause strike action? The two ministers in the health sector are medical doctors yet they are not satisfied. There are a lot of make belief and rationalization in this issue. They are fighting to resist change for better performance in the health care services of Nigeria and to remain as drainage pipe for Nigeria health sector.
If the government adopts equity and justice the deception of always fighting for personal aggrandizement and making the public to belief they are fighting the course of improved health care that has hitherto shrouded in misery would have been unveiled. Reliable studies revealed that government of Federal Republic of Nigeria are expending billions of Naira annually on training of medical doctors for residency programme both home and abroad without any condition attached, yet they still turn back to fight the very authority that are fending for them, While other students of health discipline other than medicine at master degree level spends millions of naira to pursue their personal professional career development, this amount to injustice, inequity and indulgence.
The statistics of death that occurs as a result of the strike cannot be ascertained and definitely they would have assisted some to die a little earlier than their times. But I must reassure you that the mortality is not as high as expected. Could you have imagined that the Nigeria doctors could be on strike for almost four weeks and the heaven does not fall? Gradually, the government should take the issue squarely and see that there is no single profession that can swallow others. Even that health attendant in the hospital is very important to the running of the hospital.
The other health workers are at alert; though the government does not seem to be keenly interested to reduce the effect of the strike, they should have done more' to ensure accessibility of health care services to the public. Even it may interest you that those that can afford it have a way out by patronizing private hospitals. Nigerian medical doctors are only on strike at the public hospitals, they have their way at the private hospitals that belong to them. In essence they are only striking at the public hospitals but are fully having free days at their various private clinics.
You can see why their leaders may not want the strike to end soon. Nigeria public should be aware of this deception; they gain maximally while they attempt to paralyze the work at the public hospitals. They do this to punish the poor people. If not for the regulation in this country where even the publics are made to suffer by not allowing other professionals to do what they are trained and certified to do, the situation would have been more ameliorated. Even without the strike, nurses and even health workers at the primary health care levels are seeing patient, diagnosing them and treating them. It is pertinent to intimate the public that nurses and other health workers are at the hospitals, and nurses are trained to diagnose and treat minor prevalent ailments in an area. Also, the members of the medical and dental consultants are not expected to be on strike, because the NIC injunction which they sought for has ruled against their going on strike. The public are therefore encouraged to go to the hospitals where ever they are, services are awaiting them. The services of the Nurses and other health workers are keeping the health sector to run essential services if there are no conspiracy that I called medico-boko haram insurgence on health sector. The public that are on NHIS scheme are not expected to be punished unnecessarily because of the inordinate ambition of some people. They have the right to sue FGN and respective health providers for breach of contract agreement.
In any hospital that services are completely disrupted has to be investigated and fish out saboteurs. The ante natal care should not be disrupted at all as the midwives toe ones legally empowered to conduct ante care, take delivery and conduct post natal care and refer complicated cases not to general practicing doctor but consultant gynecologist. They are fully ready to do the job they are trained to do and I want to reassure Nigerians of safe, quality and accessible care without let or hindrances.