In a bid to intervene in the on-going national strike embarked on by Nigerian doctors, the House of Representatives’ Committee on Health has been mandated to wade into the industrial crisis pitting the Nigerian Medical Association (NMA) against the Federal Ministry of Health.
The committee, which has a week to accomplish its task and report back to the House, is expected to find amicable ways of resolving the strike impasse, while also calling on federal government “to do everything possible, as a matter of utmost urgency, to have this crisis abated in the interest of the citizens of this country.”
Meanwhile, the Joint Health Sector Unions (JOHESU) has strongly condemned the nationwide strike action, by the NMA and Nigerian Association of Resident Doctors.
The Union, in a press statement, accused the Nigerian doctors of impunity and unfairness in their demands on welfare and ownership of positions in federal hospitals and making a struggle to subdue other health workers who are equally professionals in the health sector.
The NMA had, among other demands, kicked against the bearing of the title ‘consultant’ in a hospital, by other health workers who did not initially train as doctors and thus do not possess the right to ‘own’ a patient.
According to NMA, “the title ‘consultant’ in a hospital setting describes the relationship between the Specialist medical doctor and his patient. It will be a source of confusion, if the title is applied to any other health worker, who statutorily does not own a patient. NMA, therefore, declares with unmitigated emphasis that if ‘non- doctor consultants’ are appointed, it will lead to chaos and anarchy in the health sector. This should not happen.”
On the issue bordered on salary and welfare disparity between other health workers and medical doctors, JOHESU has expressed sadness over the demands, saying that it was unfair to demand that other health workers should not be paid like doctors, nor should they rise to a supervisory or directory position in the health sector, simply because they are not doctors.
JOHESU said that “while the Medical Doctors within a span of 6 – 8 years rise to the post of Medical Director, the other health professionals spend years on progression, often stagnating and generally are denied such privileges by the Medical doctors.”
The union argued that, “Issue of skipping of CONHESS 10 is simple: No civil servant progresses from GL 10 to 11; rather the structure is GL 10 to 12.
“Why should the Medical doctors compel other health professionals to embrace movement from GL 10 to 11 when the entry point is GL 13 for doctors?”