Doctors in Cross River State have embarked on an indefinite strike over COVID-19 concerns in the state.
The doctors, under the aegis of the Nigeria Medical Association, announced their decision to embark on an industrial action via a letter written to the Minister of Health, Osagie Ehanire on Sunday.
According to the State NMA Chairman, Dr. Agam Ayuk, the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) has not included Cross River in its daily update on COVID-19.
The Ayuk-led NMA accused the state government of neglecting “her responsibility of contact tracing, treatment, and care for the five confirmed cases which may not be unconnected with the delay in the publication of the results by NCDC.”
The letter partly read: “Arising from the meeting, all members of Nigerian Medical Association Cross River State branch in public and private hospitals have embarked on a total and indefinite withdrawal of medical services until NCDC and the State Ministry of Health give urgent and prompt attention to the issues raised.
“We trust that the relevant authorities will act decisively, within the shortest possible time to bring to a timely end our total and indefinite withdrawal of medical services.”
The association also accused the state Commissioner of Health, Dr. Betta Edu, over alleged unethical handling of COVID-19 testing in the state.
The doctors further “referred her to the NMA National Disciplinary Committee and Medical and Dental Council of Nigeria (MDCN) for the unethical handling of COVID-19 testing in the State, thus putting lives at risk and bringing the Association to disrepute.”
This comes a week after the Chief Medical Director of the University of Calabar Teaching Hospital (UCTH), Ikpeme Ikpeme, had announced that five patients tested positive for COVID-19 in the hospital.
But the state government accused him of spreading falsehood.
Governor Ben Ayadi has severally said that efforts made by his administration have prevented a COVID-19 outbreak in the state.
In a statement on Friday co-signed by the NMA President, Francis Faduyile, the NMA said it was disturbed by the Commissioner’s comments which cast aspersions on frontline health workers and the NCDC on live television.
“His use of profane words is capable of demoralising the exemplary gold-winning health workers and the untiring NCDC, which possibly can lead to a national catastrophe,” the statement read.
The medical association appealed to President Muhammadu Buhari to intervene in the situation and call the state government to order as “we believe” COVID-19 “is gaining a serious foothold in the State.”
“This order may include citing testing facilities in the Army Barracks or any secured location free from the encumbrances posed by the State government,” the NMA said.
Read the NMA’s full statement here:
Greetings from the NMA National Secretariat, Abuja.
Find below and attached Press Release from the NMA.
SAVE KOGI PEOPLE NOW TO AVERT AN AVOIDABLE CATASTROPHE: AN SOS TO THE PRESIDENT AND COMMANDER-IN-CHIEF OF THE ARMED FORCES, PRESIDENT MUHAMMADU BUHARI GCFR CONCERNING KOGI STATE’S HANDLING OF THE COVID-19 PANDEMIC.
The COVID-19 pandemic ravaging the entire world has necessitated several extreme measures instituted to prevent and contain the outbreak. On Wednesday, May 27th 2020, the disease was confirmed on two indigenes of Kogi State. One of the patients said to be a known community, and religious leader referred from the Federal Medical Centre Lokoja was diagnosed with COVID-19 at the National Hospital Abuja.
It is not in doubt that Coronavirus disease is in Nigeria. As at Thursday, May 28th 2020, a total of 8915 Nigerians have contracted the disease diagnosed through a standardised testing process while 259 died, yet some people are still in doubt that COVID-19 is real.
The Nigerian Medical Association has repeatedly called on all Nigerians to avail the Nigerian Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) an agency of government established by an Act of the National Assembly unimpeded access and assistance to render its duties. The Kogi State government stoutly resisted this advisory to the dismay of our Association. The State government need reminding that the NCDC is empowered to “prevent, detect, monitor and control” activities and programs for the national response against infectious disease epidemics and other public health emergencies; and also, to “lead, develop, coordinate” these activities in the country.
Kogi State government especially has hardened its heart and ensured that the Kogi people remain in the dark, untested. The people are therefore undiagnosed and untreated even though COVID-19 epidemiologic pattern has 80% of cases that present with none or very mild symptoms yet shedding the virus in their airway and innocently infecting others who may become sicker and die. The identification of these cases is through testing, according to standardised protocols.
We are incredibly disturbed by the response of the Kogi State government through the State Commissioner of Information. The Commissioner not only described the process of arriving at the diagnosis as fraudulent, but he also went on to smear the frontline Health workers and the NCDC on live national television. His use of profane words is capable of demoralising the exemplary gold-winning health workers and the untiring NCDC, which possibly can lead to a national catastrophe.
The implied consequences of these unbecoming actions are what the Nigerian Medical Association condemns. The attitude of the Kogi State government is both ignorantly meddlesome and irresponsible. It is a demonstration of undisguised hatred against the people it swore to protect and nurture.
The Association, therefore, appeals to President Muhammadu Buhari to call the State Governor and his officials to order immediately. He may issue an order granting unfettered access and protection to NCDC officials into Kogi State and do all that is necessary to contain COVID-19 which we believe is gaining a serious foothold in the State. This order may include citing testing facilities in the Army Barracks or any secured location free from the encumbrances posed by the State government.
This advisory has become necessary even as the nation is considering the further easing of the lockdown given the fact that Kogi State borders eleven (11) other states of the Federation and Lokoja, the State capital, a significant road transport interchange. We remind Nigerian citizens to take personal responsibility for their safety and protection from COVID-19 now than ever before.
We restate that on no account should healthcare professionals at any health facility in Kogi state or elsewhere be harassed or intimidated on account of rendering avowed services as it relates to appropriate management of COVID-19 patients. We call on our time tested colleagues and other health workers to continue to perform their functions, and strongly advise them to protect themselves first before treating and saving others.
Signed: DR. Francis A. Faduyile Dr. Odusote P. Olumuyiwa
The Nigerian Medical Association (NMA) has called on the Kano State Government to extend the COVID-19 lockdown on communities in the state.
Speaking during an interview on Channels Television’s Sunrise Daily, NMA Chairman in the state, Dr. Sanusi Bala, made this call on Wednesday.
When asked how residents of the state are reacting to the deadly virus, Bala’s response was positive.
He said, “People are complying when you come to the major public areas – roads, markets, etc. When you go into the community, that is not the situation. It is entirely different.”
The NMA chief also claimed that despite the government’s restriction of movements in the state, youths still engage in sporting activity.
According to him, the young people play what he described as the Corona Cup Tournament rather than maintain the social distancing.
“The youths are playing what they call the Corona Cup Tournament. And you find people sitting around, not observing social distancing. There is a need to extend the lockdown into the communities,” he said.
There has been a major concern in Kano over the COVID-19 situation following the increased number of infections in the state.
At the moment, the state has 73 confirmed cases of the virus, 14 hours after recording 14 more cases of the infection.
The Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) confirmed the development via its Twitter handle.
Earlier, the state recorded its first death from the virus with more infections discovered.
In a statement on Monday, the union said it is dismayed about the decision of the Federal Government to invite doctors from China, when the Chinese government is still battling with the pandemic.
According to the statement, Nigeria has a large pool of unemployed general medical and specialist practitioners that the government can engage instead of foreigners who can pose some security concerns at this time.
The NMA advised the government to concentrate on improving the welfare of front-line health workers, provide them with the needed personal protective equipment and other incentives to work.
In its communique, the NMA stated that it would like to review her participation in the fight against COVID-19 considering the serious implications and risks this will bring to their members should the government insist on invitation.
The Kaduna State Branch of the Nigerian Medical Association (NMA) has threatened that its members will no longer be available to render emergency call services especially at night and odd hours until what they describe as mindless and senseless killings in the State is urgently addressed.
Addressing a news conference at an emergency meeting, Secretariat in the Kaduna state NMA Chairman, Dr. Stephen Akau, says the apparent targeting of medical doctors and their families for abduction has dampened the morale of his members who no longer feel safe to attend to emergencies at odd hours, especially the recent abduction and killing of the wife of a medical doctor, Philip Ataga from their home by kidnappers.
The association says this will no longer be tolerated, and therefore calls on the government to as a matter of urgency rescue the two abducted children of the medical doctor who are still being held by the kidnappers.
The association notes that the worsening state of insecurity in the state and the seeming helplessness of the security apparatus in the face of an increasing rise in the number of doctors as well as other health workers and their families being abducted in the state is a thing of great concern.
The NMA however, declared Thursday, 6th February 2020 as a day of mourning, stressing that medical personnel will only attend skeletal services on that day.
The Acting Managing Director of the Niger Delta Development Commission, NDDC, Professor Nelson Brambaifa, has said that the Commission will partner with the Nigerian Medical Association, NMA, to provide free health care to rural communities in the Niger Delta region. Brambaifa said this when a delegation from the NMA Rivers State Branch, led by the Vice Chairman, Dr Ebbi Robinson, paid him a courtesy visit at the NDDC headquarters in Port Harcourt.
The NDDC Chief Executive Officer said that as an interventionist agency, the Commission would always collaborate with experts to provide adequate health care for rural communities in the Niger Delta region, as part of its commitment to enhance better healthcare delivery to the people.
Brambaifa assured the NMA of the support of the NDDC in training and retraining of medical personnel, noting that it was necessary to bridge the gap in healthcare delivery in the Niger Delta by taking medical experts to the various communities.
The NDDC boss stated that the Commission was determined to make a difference in the health sector through the engagement of relevant partners.
He observed that many people had benefited from the free medical services organized by the Commission to address various health issues. According to him, the NDDC had always made efforts to bring healthcare to the door-steps of rural dwellers.
He said that the NDDC free medical mission made it possible to assemble medical experts in different areas of specialization to attend to the needs of people who would otherwise not have access to such highly qualified medical personnel.
Earlier in his remarks, the Vice Chairman of NMA, Dr Ebbi Robinson, commended the NDDC for promoting health-related programmes that help to reduce the medical challenges facing the people of the region.
He said: “We want to partner with NDDC in manpower development in the health sector. There is need to sponsor the training of specialties in the medical sector and we need the support of the NDDC in training and retraining of medical personnel.”
Dr Robinson said the NMA was making arrangements for its Annual General Meeting, AGM, in the Rivers State capital and would, therefore, require the support of the NDDC.
He said that the progamme for the AGM would include free health services for members of the public and a community outreach programme.
The Nigerian Medical Association (NMA) has called for improved budgeting of the health sector.
NMA President, Francis Fajuyile made this appeal during a conference over the weekend in Osogbo the Osun state capital.
He said that government is giving less attention to healthcare and added that the introduction of Universal Health Coverage is needed to improve healthcare delivery of the country.
“We have a myriad of problems affecting us as medical practitioners, the first one is about funding. We need the government to fund health more appropriately and the funding has a lot to do with the equipment that we need to have in the hospitals,” he said.
Fajuyile also decried the poor state of most hospitals in the country and urged the governments at all levels to see to its improvement.
“We need to have a good working environment for the doctors and the patients to be seen and be treated properly.
“It is in this funding that you can employ the adequate number of personnel. Migration of doctors has been fingered that funding of health is one of the major reason why many of our people are leaving the shores of this country.”
On the issue of fake medical practitioners across the country, the NMA President wants security operatives to collaborate with the association to expose culprits.
According to him, quackery is one of the bane of appropriate treatment in this country and should be addressed immediately.
The NMA President believes that fake doctors are not being properly persecuted to serve as a deterrent to others.
He, therefore, wants the association to assist the police in tackling the menace of quacks.
In doing this, Fajuyile said, Nigerians would get the best treatment by skilled workers.
President Muhammadu Buhari has appealed to medical doctors to avoid going on strike but consider other means of negotiation for better working conditions.
He said this on Thursday when he received the new executive of the Nigerian Medical Association (NMA) at the Presidential Villa in Abuja, the nation’s capital.
The President asked them to always see their profession as a divine call, especially in taking decisions that directly impact on the lives of Nigerians.
“The medical profession is regarded as a divine call because of the strategic role you play in the lives of human beings,” he said in a statement by his Special Adviser on Media and Publicity, Mr Femi Adesina.
President Buhari revealed that the Federal Government was considering an upward review of budgetary allocation to the health sector, in order to improve the quality and access to medical facilities across the country.
He was hopeful that the review of the budgetary allocation would reflect the government’s priority of ensuring that Nigerians get better healthcare, especially in specialised areas.
“We place quality healthcare on our priority list, and we are already marching on with the primary healthcare services and some state governors have bought into it. We are committed to universal health care,” the President added.
He also assured the NMA leaders that the White Paper from the Ahmed Yayale-led panel report on Inter-Professional Harmony in the Healthcare Sector was already being considered by the government to ensure more organised and harmonised working relationships among medical practitioners.
President Buhari commended the association and its members on some of the medical feats being achieved in Nigeria, including the separation of conjoined twins, organ transplants, heart surgeries and treatment of cancer patients.
He also informed them that the Nigerian Medical and Dental Council would soon be constituted to further enhance service delivery and regulation of the sector.
In his remarks, the Minister of State for Health, Dr Osagie Ohanire, was optimistic that a newly released basic healthcare provision would further focus on improving service delivery to Nigerians through the primary healthcare.
The NMA President, Dr Francis Adedayo, commended the President for including members of the NMA in the Federal Executive Council and assenting to the Medical Residency Training Act.
He also urged the Federal Government to improve the budgetary allocation to the health sector, as required by the Abuja Declaration which sets a benchmark of 15 per cent.
Dr Adedayo noted that the speedy processing of the Ahmed Yayale report on harmony among practitioners in the medical sector would go a long way in enhancing service delivery and better working relationships.
He hinted the President that the NMA had already reached out to the National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA) for stronger partnership in providing care for victims of disasters.
The Nigeria Medical Association (NMA) has accused the members of the Joint Health Sector Union (JOHESU) of sabotage and fabricating stories making outrageous demands from the Federal Government.
The NMA is blaming the JOHESU on why the industrial action embarked upon has continued to linger on.
According to the NMA, the strike situation has affected health services in some government hospitals across the country.
At this news conference in Abuja, members of the NMA described the industrial action as an act targeted at them.
The association insisted that the crux of the matter is agitations for equal pay with the medical doctors, an allegation that JOHESU leadership denies. The striking health workers resumed negotiations with the Federal Government on Tuesday behind closed doors.
However, a statement from the Ministry of Labour and Employment after that meeting urged the JOHESU members to obey a court order that allegedly directed the striking health workers to suspend their action with 24 hours, a development that JOHESU have also responded to.
The endless strike in the health sector is already taking its toll on patients, and the apparent power play between the NMA, JOHESU and the federal government is obviously not in the interest of patients who want the crisis resolved in immediately.
The Kaduna state branch of the Nigerian Medical Association (NMA), has asked the Federal Government not to enter any negotiation with the Joint Health Sector Workers Union (JOHESU) over the ongoing strike embarked upon by the union.
The Kaduna NMA described the group as an illegal and non-professional body which should therefore not be recognized by the government.
Chairman of the association Dr Abdulrahaman Shehu, made this known on Thursday at a news conference in Kaduna.
According to him, the purpose of the strike is to sabotage the genuine effort of the government towards ensuring a lasting industrial harmony and development of the country’s health sector.
Speaking further, he described the agitation by the health workers for equal salary and rank with medical doctors as laughable and unrealistic.
Shehu, therefore, stated that any attempt by the Federal Government to distort the existing agreement it entered with the medical doctors in 2014 will be resisted by the association.
He also appealed to other healthcare workers in the country to stay within their roles as team players in the nation’s health sector, noting that their quest for headship in any aspect of clinical practice is uncalled for and has only brought untold hardship to patients and their relatives.
His comments come after the health workers had a meeting with the Federal Government on Wednesday night, to bring an end to the strike which has last for about a month.
The meeting which was chaired by the Minister of Labour and Employment, Senator Chris Ngige, and Prof Issac Adewole, Minister of Health, was said to have ended abruptly after some aggrieved members stormed out of the conference room.
The session is however expected to continue today (May, 17, 2018).
Meanwhile, some groups have faulted the government for what they described as its failure to act fast and resolve the lingering strike.
One of such is the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) who on Tuesday said “the refusal by President Muhammadu Buhari to address the devastating strike action by health workers across the country, is a clear manifestation of insensitivity to the plight and suffering of Nigerians.”
The Party, however, pleaded with the health workers to be more open to ways to solve the problem, so as to “forestall an outbreak of epidemic and health crisis”.
Kaduna State chapter of the Nigerian Medical Association (NMA) has decried the declining immunisation coverage across the country, especially in northern Nigeria.
The State NMA Chairman, Dr Shehu Abdulrahman, who stated this on Tuesday while addressing a news conference in Kaduna said the situation was totally unacceptable.
According to him, available data from the 2016/2017 National Immunisation Coverage revealed that only 33 percent of children between 12 to 23 months of age have access to vaccines compared to the global target of 90 percent.
Dr Abdulraman was, however, worried that a large population of Nigerian children under age five were unprotected, saying they were being exposed to the risk of dying from preventable diseases such as measles and Hepatitis B among others.
He said except something was done urgently to reverse the trend, no meaningful development can take place in a situation where diseases and death are ravaging the potential leaders and hopes of tomorrow.
The NMA Chairman further called on government at all levels and other stakeholders in the health sector to provide more funds for child health, particularly routine immunisation activities.
He also asked them to support healthcare workers in the rural areas with adequate logistics and incentives to enable them to discharge their duties effectively.
Abdulrahman also appealed to the Federal Government to fully implement the National Health Act, 2014, which he said provided for the setting aside of one percent of consolidated revenue as Basic Health Provision Fund.