Dr. Askira Mohammed
President and the entire Congress
National Association of Resident Doctors of Nigeria.
A SACK TOO MANY
I bring you greetings from the Office of the Sub-Regional Executive Director/ Coordinator for West Africa of Junior Doctors of Africa (JDA).
JDA is the umbrella body of doctors who are below the level of medical consultants in Africa.
JDA has the mandate to promote and protect the interest of Resident Doctors in Africa with a view of ensuring a better standard of health care delivery and their welfare in Africa.
The current medical challenges and drama in the Nigeria Health Sector have caught our attention, and the sad tale that thousands of Nigerian doctors were sacked have drawn our gaze to this unfortunate decision.
As you know Nigeria is the most populous nation in Africa, so a health crisis of the magnitude that is being steered up will have negative ripple effect in the region first and in Africa in general.
As you know Nigeria is faced with a lot of issues and the consequences of the action or inaction of not addressing these have created a lot of security challenges, violence and humanitarian disaster with far reaching health implications just to list a few.
Our Hippocratic brothers in Nigeria have reached out to us with a lot of documents and our preliminary investigation on the health sector challenges are mind blowing.
Any human with conscience and dignity must feel disturbed by the drama playing out in Africa populous nation.
Doctors in Nigeria and outside the country all agree the unprecedented story of the mass Sack of Nigerian doctors with some African doctors who by extension are married to Nigerian is shameful act and further confirms the collapse of the health sector. This we hear is because they asked to be paid as doctors. These doctora are being owed salaries ranging from 4 months to 7 months. One can only imagine what other ordinary citizens or worker will be experiencing about this time.
Thankfully, we are happy that the National Medical Association in Nigeria called the Nigerian Medical Association (NMA) led by Prof. Mike Ogirima, have been working strongly with other affiliate groups to condemn this action by the agent of the government on Resident Doctors and their leaders.
I must at this point equally thank His Excellency Right Honourable Yakubu Dogara the Speaker of the Federal House of Representatives for sincerely rejecting such action and quickly intervening to prevent an humanitarian disaster of epic magnitude as the story filtered in 2 days ago.
I must commend the leadership of the National Association of Resident Doctors of Nigeria led by Dr. Askira Mohammed for the proactive way the association has handled this developing impasse.
The cheering story that all the medical associations are united and have rejected this act has shown that the resolve of doctors to insist and demand for a better healthcare delivery services and welfare of their members is key to moving health sector in Nigeria forward.
Truthfully, working together as one united group will help change and advance the medical profession in your country.
One still remains fixated at the constant sickening culture of sack of thousands of Nigerian doctors by various governments.
This warped creed is not consistent with international best practices.
Considering the current realities as deposited in this letter, it is ill timed especially when we heard that fruitful negotiation was almost been reached through the intervention of Rt. Honourable Yakubu Dogara.
Government agency saddled with the responsibility of regulating health must focus on sustain health care and not carrying out actions that are not properly thought out.
To Government, within the context of democracy, its actions are not acceptable. What is required now is leadership and it must be at all levels in the health sector.
Genuine leadership is never about the spectacle of wisdom or the accomplished credential an individual have, its more about a collective encompassing determination that the individual with help from all stakeholders can give which can help steer a nation from drifting off the path of development.
Leadership equally is about reciprocating respect and felicity from stakeholders, and in the event of a dispute as evidence in the health sector in Nigeria, leadership, is about sharing ideas, encouraging constant positive debate on the way forward from stakeholders, until you both reach an acceptable consensus, sadly this fundamental principle was not followed and have led to the condemnation of this action from Ministry of Health.
We plead that all forms of disruptive illustrations or actions be stopped to give room for meaning negotiation.
One of the cardinal benefits any Government in Africa can extend to her citizens is a GOOD HEALTH CARE SYSTEM with properly motivated workforce that is properly remunerated at all level of government.
Nigeria Government must give a sense of belonging to the relevant stakeholders who equally are citizens and make the environment conducive for them to contribute productively to rendering all the the forms of health treatment.
Therefore the current situation emanating from Nigeria is unpalatable, despicable and dehumanizing. Government must act urgently.
It was confirmed from preliminary report that in a state in the south-west of Nigeria (Osun State), a doctor decided to be a cab driver, just to survive and feed his family. Since he has not received salaries for over 7months, he explained that he preferred to drive a cab than to consult in a clinic. I can only imagine the humanitarian health challenges in a state where most citizens live below 1 dollar per day.
This depressing narrative from Nigeria requires government asserting quickly a guiding normative pattern to solving the problem.
First, the sacking or alleged sack of Resident Doctors must be reversed and such actions never to be repeated. This is to allow the current intervention of the Speaker of the National Assembly to be concluded.
Secondly, government at all levels must imbibe values that will enhance health care delivery while ensuring fairness and equity within the health sector and must tolerate and listen to agitation, ideas from stakeholders.
Thirdly, kick start genuine health care system restructuring for the benefit of her citizens.
These attributes of engagement as highlighted above must never be traded for promotion of cronyism, nepotism , tribal, regional and religious sentiments.
They are solely for the advancement of the health sector, which can’t be etched in half-measure solution or ill thought ideas but must be around the table of sincere dialogue.
We all must come to the table of equity with clean hands and must embrace the contributions of stakeholders.
Once again, I appreciate the NMA leadership led by Prof. Ogirima. I must appreciate Dr. Osahon Enabulele, Vice-President of Commonwealth Medical Association, who is well known to us in JDA, other affiliate heads especially MDCAN and NARD leadership led by Dr. Mohammed Askira and other National Officers.
We wish that both Government and the various medical association in Nigeria work together to sustain the fragile healthcare system in Nigeria.
Long live WMA!
Long live CWMA!
Long live JDN!
Long live JDA!
Long live NMA!
Long live NARD!
Long live Nigeria!
Gbujie D. C.
JDA Regional Executive Director/Coordinator for West Africa
World Medical Association