Rising from a meeting of its national officers committee, the Nigerian Medical Association (NMA) has called for the reconstitution of the Medical and Dental Council of Nigeria (MDCN), which was disbanded by the federal government, along with other professional regulatory bodies and government parastatals.
Speaking through a press release jointly signed by Dr Kayode Obembe, NMA president and Dr Adewunmi Alayaki, secretary general, the association said it was highly appalled by the state of affairs in the health care delivery system which has been reinforced by the recent ruling of the National Industrial Court.
Describing medicine and dentistry as internationally recognised noble professions, Obembe declared that the NMA was is deeply concerned with increasing number of people who die daily due to the present situation.
“We are concerned that unless decisive actions are taken NOW to allow international best practices to take root, many more avoidable deaths are in the offing as a result of the miscarriage of unionism, impunity, ignorance and lawlessness in our health institutions.
“Stories of staff removing life-support gadgets, switching off oxygen supply lines, electricity and water during strikes have become common. Rather than charge those concerned with murder, there is a subtle conspiracy to help perpetrators get away with their role in the strike”, he said.
The president further lamented that doctors who choose to uphold the elevated calling of the medical ethics by deciding to work during the strike actions are usually assaulted by detailed thugs – often junior and middle cadre staff -sometimes deployed from other establishments for cover.
Obembe noted that it was in the light of the foregoing and others too numerous to mention that the NMA had decided to step out boldly and insist that things be made right, provided they are done in the best interest of patient care and the health system in line with international best practices.
Buttressing this claim, Dr Adewunmi Alayaki, NMA secretary general reiterated that many well-trained and highly-skilled Nigerian doctors and dentists had left the shores of the country over the years because of unhealthy, antagonistic, unproductive and acrimonious work environment in the public health sector.
“How else can one explain a situation where a professor of haematology is barred from performing tests and implementing quality assurance programmes in the haematology laboratory by a judicial pronouncement?
“A consultant plastic surgeon was once prevented from reviewing the wound of a patient in the ward he operated in earlier, simply because a ‘consultant’ nurse had given order that the wound must not be opened. Can the Nigerian sick people survive under this state of anarchy?” he queried.
The experienced physician argued that in other climes, other health professions are recognised and designated as professions allied to medicine, which is akin to a tree with its branches and other parts.
He opined that it is only in Nigeria that allied health professionals lock up equipment, cannibalise them, re-label reagents, and even pull off or plug off life-support machines with patients connected to them when they embark on strikes under the watch of the authorities.
“The NMA will not tolerate any encroachment in any medical or dental arena as no doctor or dentist will submit his practice to any other health professional regulatory body other than the MDCN and the relevant state ministries of health.
“For emphasis, pathologists must perform their role in the pathology services laboratories. doctors and dentists are hereby cautioned against using pathology services or laboratory results not reviewed, interpreted and reported by pathologists,” he warned.
The secretary general remarked that the unquenchable appetite to extort and exploit the Nigerian masses leading to the phenomena of pseudo-typhoid epidemic, small hepatitis and little malaria syndromes is one handy example of what running laboratories without pathologists looks like.
He further stated that human samples are often handled without recourse to the state of health of the owner.
“It is only the pathologists that have the training and mandate to situate and connect the biological samples and the patient. Enough of mediocrity, enough of ignorance, enough of absurdity, enough of indiscipline!
“Laboratories that do not have permanent or visiting pathologists are to be avoided as much as possible in the interest of patients. The same applies to radiology where there are no radiologists,” he charged.
In conclusion, the NMA reiterated that the reconstitution of the MDCN should be done without any further delay so that appropriate regulatory activities can be effectively executed in line with legal provisions, and malpractices and other breaches of its codes of ethics sanctioned accordingly.
“Finally we believe that the recommendations of the Yayale Ahmed Committee on Inter-professional relationships in the public health sector should be implemented forthwith,” Alayaki appealed.