Why sack of 16,000 resident doctors may worsen challenges in health sector
Vice President of the Commonwealth Medical Association (CMA) and former President of the Nigerian Medical Association (NMA), Dr. Osahon Enabulele, has condemned the recent decision of the Federal Government of Nigeria acting through the Federal Ministry of Health to sack over 16,000 resident doctors and potential specialist medical doctors and dentists in the country.
Enabulele, in a statement made available to The Guardian said the action is an ill-advised labour dispute management approach towards the resolution of the various issues in dispute between the Federal Government and the National Association of Resident Doctors of Nigeria (NARD).
“It is undoubtedly a decision capable of further worsening the dispute and challenges in the health sector,” he said.Enabulele gave reasons why sack of over 16,000 resident doctors may worsen challenges in health sector: “With the current population of medical doctors practicing in Nigeria, we have an unsatisfactory doctor-patient population ratio of 1: 4,822. With this action of government the ratio will further decline to about 1: 8,831. This is a far cry from the expected ratio of 1: 600. Furthermore, Nigeria only currently boast of about 5,000 specialist medical and dental practitioners (consultants) providing specialist medical and dental care to over 170 million Nigerians, with a ratio of one medical consultant to 34,000 Nigerians.
“There are lots of Nigerian trained medical specialists constantly emigrating every year to countries with better work conditions/conditions of service and enabling environment. Indeed, at the end of 2015 there were over 5,000 Nigerian trained specialist medical/dental practitioners in Britain alone and many more in the United States of America and other developed economies.
“With this action of government there is bound to be worsening of the brain drain phenomenon with increased migration of doctors and specialist medical/dental practitioners abroad. Surely, it will deprive Nigeria of the required mass of skilled medical/dental manpower needed to handle the increasingly complex medical/dental conditions of the 21st century. The morbidity and mortality indices are therefore sure to worsen on account of this shocking action of government.”
He said he is most troubled by the use of an extreme and unwarranted strong arm tactics by the Federal Government through the Federal Ministry of Health over NARD’s expression of her legitimate demands, particularly when all other avenues to address the issues in dispute (even as contemplated by the National Health Act 2014) were yet to be explored, and at a time of evident acute-on-chronic national health work force crisis, particularly the dearth of skilled medical manpower in Nigeria.
He said while he commends the Speaker of the Federal House of Representatives, Yakubu Dogara for his recent committed interventionist efforts, along with the Chairman (Betty Apiafi) and members of the House Committee on Federal Health Institutions, Chairman House Committee on Labour, Chairman House Committee of Appropriation, as well as the leadership of the Nigerian Medical Association, he called on both the leadership of the Federal Ministry of Health and the National Association of Resident Doctors to genuinely explore this latest window of opportunity for more transparent transactions and progressive dialogue aimed at an amicable and sustained resolution of the seemingly intractable issues in dispute.