The leadership of the Nigerian Medical Association (NMA) has challenged the president-elect, General Muhammadu Buhari (Rtd) to initiate functional and proactive reforms in the nation’s health care sector.
The association further said that the reforms would redeem the sector from imminent collapse.
The Secretary General of the Association, Mr Adewunmi Alayaki made the call while presenting what he called a road map for the sector which seems to have been neglected with its attendant effects on the health of the citizenry.
He, however, appealed to the members of the health profession to support the new government in its task of revamping the sector for the good of all Nigerians.
Mr. Alayaki said that the country’s health sector is bedeviled with many challenges, from administrative hiccups to policy somersault, which has negative impacts on the health of the people.
As Nigeria battles to contain the spread of the deadly Ebola virus, The Nigerian Labour Congress (NLC), has called for improved working conditions and welfare of health workers across the country to enable them tackle further spread of the virus.
The President of the union, Abdulwaheed Omar, who made the call at a sensitization workshop against the spread of Ebola organized for textile workers in Kaduna on Monday, commended both the federal and state governments for the zeal they had shown so far in the containment of the disease and urged them to extend similar zeal in the fight against the Boko Haram insurgency in the North East.
He also asked government to settle all outstanding labour issues with the Nigerian Medical Association (NMA).
The sensitization workshop on the prevention of Ebola virus in the work place was organized by the National Union of Textile Garment and Tailoring Workers of Nigeria in Kaduna, North West Nigeria.
It was the second in the series of the campaign against the virus by the textile workers, having held the first one in Lagos two weeks ago.
The essence was to educate the workers about the Ebola virus, how it was contacted, symptoms and how to avoid contacting it.
The Guest Lecturer, who was also the Director Port Health Services in the Federal Ministry of Health Dr Sani Gwarzo said Nigeria had gone beyond the level of sensitization to action since the outbreak of the disease in the country.
With the virus spreading to Port Harcourt in the south south region of the country, General Secretary of the Textile Workers Union, Isa Aremu, called on the Nigerian government to review the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) treaty on free movement of persons within the West African sub region as it will curtail the spread of the Ebola virus and other airborne diseases that are ravaging Africa.
The gathering of the workers inside the hall was an indication that there was dire need for all and sundry to be vigilant and join hands with government and care givers towards ending the spread of the Ebola Virus Disease that has already killed people in Africa.
The Vice President (WAR), Commonwealth Medical Association and the immediate past president of the Nigerian Medical Association, Dr. Osahon Enabulele, has asked the Nigerian government to honestly and responsibly respect all past and present agreements it willingly signed with the Nigerian Medical Association.
In a statement on Friday, Dr. Enabulale commended the government for reversing the “ill-advised suspension of the Residency Training Program (RTP) and sack of 16,000 Resident doctors in Nigeria”.
He further lauded President Goodluck Jonathan for listening to the voices of reason by his statesmanly decision to unconditionally reverse the Federal Government’s earlier directive.
“I urge the Federal Government to adopt in the future more positive, objective and statesmanly approaches towards resolving the challenges befuddling Nigeria’s health sector, in a way that promotes constructive engagement, best practices and professionalism,” the statement read.
Dr. Enabulele expressed hopes that the latest directive of the President would be immediately communicated to the various Chief Medical Directors and Medical Directors of Nigeria’s Federal Tertiary Health Institutions for immediate unconditional implementation.
He further commended the Senate President, Senator David Mark, the Governor of Delta State, Dr Emmanuel Uduaghan, the Speaker of the House of Representatives, Hon. Aminu Tambuwal, Senator Tunde Ogbeha, Senator Ifeanyi Okowa, and Senator Chris Ngige for their patriotic, dependable and objective role in resolving the issues that led to the suspension of the programme.
The Ogun State Governor, Ibikunle Amosun, has commended the Nigerian Medical Association (NMA), over the decision to suspend its over one month Medical Doctors’ nationwide strike in the overall interest of the generality of the citizenry.
Speaking through his Senior Special Assistant on Media, Mrs Olufunmilayo Wakama, Amosun noted that the decision could not have come at a better time when the nation was battling to curb the spread of the dreaded Ebola Virus Disease (EVD), which he noted was fast becoming an epidemic.
He said “People should always find amicable ways of resolving crisis. I want to commend the leadership of Nigeria Medical Association (NMA), for having found a way round the issues that led to the industrial action in the first place”.
“I am happy that the strike has been suspended at this very crucial time, when the guidance and expertise of our medical personnel are most crucial in containing the Ebola Virus.”
Amosun also commended the efforts of the Nigerian Medical Association (NMA), National President, Dr. Kayode Obembe, the Senate President, David Mark, as well as others who were able to prevail on the concerned parties for the favorable outcome.
He also expressed the hope that stakeholders would be able to find a final resolution to the dispute while negotiations continue.
Many Nigerians had raised fears that the absence of the medical workers would affect the efforts of the government in tackling the outbreak of Ebola Virus Disease in Nigeria’s commercial city, Lagos .
Since the index patient of Ebola disease, Patrick Sawyer, died on July 25, the Lagos State government had pleaded with the medical doctors to come back to work and support the state’s effort to stop the spread of the disease.
Despite the nation-wide strike embarked upon by the Nigerian Medical Association, NMA, since July 1, some doctors in Rivers State did not hesitate to participate in the free medical programme organized by the Niger Delta Development Commission, NDDC, in conjunction with Golspin Health Care Foundation at Asarama Health Center in Andoni Local Government Area of the state.
Flagging off the free health programme, the NDDC Managing Director, Bassey Dan-Abia, said that the programme was a gift from President Goodluck Jonathan to the rural communities in the Niger Delta.
Mr Dan-Abia, who was represented by the Rivers State representative on the Governing Board of the Commission, Ephraim Etete-Owoh, said that apart from bringing good health to the people, the agency was determined to change the face of the communities with development projects.
He appealed to the people to always support NDDC and cooperate with its contractors to ensure timely and satisfactory completion of projects in their communities. He also urged contractors working for the commission to deliver quality projects for the benefit of the people of the Niger Delta.
The Chief Medical Consultant and leader of the medical team, Professor Adelayo Ejele, commended the doctors who volunteered their services at a time most doctors were keeping away from government hospitals. He said that the Asarama community and their neigbours should be grateful to the NDDC for bringing the free health programme to their door-steps.
He revealed that 156 patients were screened for HIV/AIDS and only 2 persons were found to be positive. Fortunately, Ebola, he said, was not there yet. He prayed that it would never get to the region.
Speaking for the Asarama community, Chief Appolus Ewaye, noted that the health programme came at a time many people in the villages were finding it difficult to access healthcare facilities. He expressed appreciation to the NDDC for the programme.
The seven-day free medical programme, which has attracted thousands of patients in the area, would be rounded off on Saturday, August 23. Several communities in the nine Niger Delta states have benefited in the last one month.
A total of 1,479 cases were treated, including 21 surgeries, 108 dental cases and 365 laboratory investigations.
The Nigerian government and the Nigerian Medical Association have been asked to, as a matter of urgency, reach a resolution on the issues that led to the association’s strike in order to tackle the Ebola Virus Disease outbreak.
In the seeming daggers-drawn situation between the Federal Government and Doctors over the suspension of residency training programmes in all Teaching Hospitals across the country, a member of the Senate Committee on Health, Senator Chris Ngige, on Tuesday, said that both the Federal Government and the doctors were to blamed over the situation.
The Senator, who is representing Anambra Central Senatorial Zone of Anambra State, said that the government’s action may have been targeted at effecting a “no work no pay” strategy on the doctors, but emphasised that the government may be “using a sledgehammer to kill a fly” by the suspension and the doctors.
He also said that the the doctors were not helping matters with the ongoing strike, knowing the essential role they could play in the control of a globally declared emergency disease outbreak, the Ebola Virus Disease.
As expected, the over six weeks strike has continued to affect medical care that sick persons get.
At the Teaching Hospital at Amaku Awka in Anambra State, the effect of the industrial action was very evident. Surgical wards are almost left empty, those who were sick had definitely sought help elsewhere since there were no doctors to treat them.
At the Chest Clinic Department, few patients were seated but no doctor was attending to them. Just few nurses were seen at the almost deserted hospital.
Amidst the strike, the Federal and State governments are trying to contain the Ebola Virus outbreak, but the needed manpower is not very available.
The Chief Medical Director of Anambra State Teaching Hospital, who was on inspection of the isolation camp created by the hospital in case of any Ebola Virus Disease emergency, maintained that the resident doctors, who had been sacked, do the bulk of the work in the hospitals and that the Federal Government had been supportive of them and therefore should not destroy the structure they had put in so much to build.
The Health Minister, Professor Onyebuchi Chukwu, had insisted that over 90 per cent of the terms of agreement between the Federal Government and the Nigerian Medical Association had been met as their July salaries, in spite of the strike, were paid alongside allowances such as duty allowance, hazard allowance and teaching allowance.
Despite these efforts to lure the doctors back to work, nothing came out of it and the suspension of the residency programme has further deepened the impasse.
While some doctors say the Federal Government’s pronouncement of the residency suspension was one made in a fit of rage which is highly irrational, others still maintain that even with the strike, they have not been idle as they are following up on events and making contingency arrangements to contain any possible spread of the Ebola Virus Disease.
The outbreak of Ebola disease has prompted various organizations to join the campaign to promote the washing of hands and the need to pay attention to personal hygiene.
Ahead of the Nigeria Bar Association (NBA) Conference, the President of the Association, Mr Okay Wali, educated lawyers on the need to ensure that proper hygiene should be maintained during the conference as delegates prepare to attend the 54th conference of the Nigerian Bar Association.
The leadership of the association gave the advice in view of the outbreak of Ebola virus in the country. He assured members that adequate measures have been put in place to safeguard delegates.
The association has, however, urged the Nigerian Medical Association and the Federal Government to sheath their swords in view of the seriousness of the disease and the need for all hands to be on deck to fight the disease
Elsewhere, the Ministry of Water Resources has also launched the campaign for personal hygiene as a means to prevent the spread of the Ebola virus.
The Medical Guild in Nigeria has asked the government not to blackmail doctors in the wake of the Ebola Virus outbreak that has claimed four lives.
The Guild’s comment is coming a day after the Federal Government suspended the Residency Training Programme for Doctors in Nigeria indefinitely for the purpose of appraising the challenges facing the health sector.
On Channels Television’s programme, Sunrise Daily, on Friday, the Vice Chairman of the Guild, Dr Oseni Saliu, said that the suspension was like a case of punishing a child for the father’s sin.
Since July 1, the Nigerian Medical Association (NMA) has embarked on an indefinite strike, after the government failed to address their 24-point demand.
The association is, among other things, demanding the stoppage of the appointment of non-doctors as directors and consultants.
They are also demanding the immediate passage of the National Health Bill, appointment of a Surgeon-General of the Federation, the payment of 100,000 Naira hazard allowance for medical doctors and the skipping of level 12 by medical and dental practitioners.
Dr Oseni pointed out that the medical association was a parental body, whose action apparently led to the suspension of the residency programme.
He was of the opinion that if the government would be sincere about suspending the residency programme, the first thing should have been to put a ban on public medical officers leaving the country for Medical Services abroad, as they deprive the public of getting the best Medical Services.
“For the government to stop residency, it means there is no teaching hospital and at the moment limited numbers of doctors are becoming specialists.
”Government should live up to their responsibility and not blackmail doctors with Ebola,” he said.
Dr Oseni stressed the need for the government to address the issue that had to do with the strike, insisting that an emergency management team was already on ground to tackle the Ebola outbreak.
“We are not not afraid of Ebola. We are trained to do what we do and the government should not blackmail us with Ebola, compelling us to call off the strike.
“What we are saying is that we need the government to do what it has to do on the issues that led to the strike. We want to be sure of what the insurance is like before people will go and risk their lives.
“We are part of the public and we also have families that care. We have had situations where some doctor’s wives insisted that if their husbands get involved in the treatment of Ebola patients, they should not come back home. We must have to reassure our wives that going to treat an Ebola patient is not a death sentence and the only way we can reassure that is that, if we go there, we are safe. we also have mothers that are saying, instead of going to Ebola, you should go and resign,” he said, stressing that doctors are not expected to go and attend to an Ebola patient, with just gloves and mask.
According to him, calling-off the strike is not a solution to Ebola, as the most important thing is creating needed public awareness.
He said the previous strikes had always been on same issues but that the current strike had to do with, integrity of the profession and the survival of public.
Dr Oseni insisted that President Goodluck Jonathan was misled in his decision to suspend the residency programme.
“Do they have to sack Residence Doctors for NMA to suspend the strike? Is it Residence Doctors that called for the strike? He questioned.
The Nigerian Medical Association(NMA) has vowed to continue with its strike until the federal government acceded to their demands.
This warning was sounded by the Chairman of Lagos State chapter of the association, Dr Tope Ojo, at a press conference on Sunday, in Lagos.
Dr Ojo listed the demands of the association as reached in the last Emergency Delegates Meeting.
He however said Nigerian doctors are willing to attend to Ebola victims just as they are attending to victims of Boko Haram attacks in the northern parts of the country.
“you may recall that in the course of the present strike, Nigerian doctors in Kaduna, Kano, and Borno states responded to the causalities of the insurgent attack in those states.
“In the light of this, Nigerian doctors are willing to respond to the Ebola crisis. Let me state unequivocally that as the undisputable leader of the health sector, Nigerian doctors are willing to provide leadership (as we have always done) in the response to the Ebola crisis. We have, on our own initiated a response committee which has began a public enlightenment of the Nigerian populace on the facts and dispelling the myths of the mode of transmission and preventive measures for the Ebola disease, like using salt water to bathe.
“We are however willing to collaborate with the Government at different tiers, including Lagos State, on strategies for controlling this outbreak (i.e. protection, prevention and promotion, contact tracing, quarantine, and treatment of suspected or established cases) as we have always done”he said.
The Lagos Medical Association boss also called on the Federal Government to “provide adequate training for healthcare personnel and provision of protective gadgets and screening equipments to promote early detection and enhance appropriate intervention.”
The Kaduna State branch of Nigerian Medical Association (NMA) has advised both the federal and state governments to focus more of their enlightenment campaign on the Ebola virus disease to the rural communities rather than concentrating on the urban areas.
The association said that this has become imperative because majority of the rural dwellers eat more bush meat than their urban counterparts, and are also not properly enlightened to know the risks associated with the Ebola virus disease.
The Kaduna State NMA Chairman, Dr. Mohammed Ibrahim, gave this advice at a press briefing in Kaduna on Saturday, where he debunked rumours spreading round the state since Thursday that there was an outbreak of the deadly Ebola virus in the state.
He advised the residents to always confirm any issue relating to the Ebola case from health personnel instead of relying on rumours. He also advised them to adopt measures of protecting themselves from contracting the virus.
Mr Ibrahim reiterated the willingness of his members to attend to any case of Ebola or any other emergency in the state, despite the ongoing strike by medical doctors across the country.
He, however, expressed dissatisfaction with the Federal Government’s insurance cover for health workers who are attending to victims of Ebola virus, as well as the level of preparedness shown so far by both the Federal Government and the 36 state governments.
The Senior Registrar, Department of Family Medicine, LASUTH, Dr. Sodipo Oluwajimi, says that the Nigerian Medical Association is trying to liaise with the Lagos State Government to provide a secured place that would be used to treat people infected with the Ebola Virus to prevent its spread.
He reiterated the need for persons infected with the Ebola virus to be kept in an isolated area to be able to reduce the risk of spreading.
Speaking as a guest on Channels Television’s breakfast programme, Sunrise Daily, Dr. Oluwajimi noted that the doctors’ strike has not yet been called off, but there is a centre in Yaba which is equipped and is taking care of people infected with Ebola virus.
He mentioned that the doctors treating these affected patients have previously worked on patients infected with other similar infections, which has made them have some form of infection control mechanism.
Dr. Oluwajimi advised that when a patient is critically ill or has an infection, there should be a high level of infection control to prevent the spread of the disease.
He revealed that there had been no case of the Ebola virus at the Lagos State University Teaching Hospital (LASUTH) but mentioned that all cases of infections are being referred to Infectious Disease Hospital which he says has been managing people with high level of infections.
Dr. Oluwajimi also explained that people do not become symptomatic unless there is a contact and there is the primary contact, secondary contact and tertiary contact. He further explained that primary contact is directly with someone that has the infection/virus, while the secondary and tertiary contacts depend on the number of contacts leading to the primary carrier of the virus.
He disclosed that the Government was monitoring people that came in contact with the late Liberian-American, Patrick Sawyer, to prevent more spread.