By Tobias Lengnan Dapam

The Minister of Labour and Employment, Dr. Chris Ngige has called on doctors in the country to be humble in discharging their duties.

He reminded them that knowledge of the profession was given to them by God to help preserve his creation.

Ngige made the call during the 2nd annual summit organized by Africa Health Budget Network (AHBN) in collaboration with the Nigerian Medical Association (NMA) themed: ‘Medical Profession: a look into the past, present and future’.

The event which took place yesterday in Abuja, was necessitated by challenges affecting the progress of the medical profession in Nigeria, and the recurrent strike actions by various groups of professionals in the country.

Ngige wondered why the professional body embark on strike whenever their member is in government.

He said, since his assumption of office as minister, he was confronted with at least four industrial actions by the professional body.

The minister warned that until the doctors look inward and ask themselves some pertinent questions with sincere answers, he could see a great danger looming ahead.

“This is the first time in the history of the NMA and the medical profession that I am seeing our association and our profession in danger as I am seeing now.  Many people will not see it but from where I am sitting and where I am standing, I can see danger ahead.

‘’I say so because we are one of the oldest professions on earth, emanating from natural and traditional healers.  People who use leaves to take away pain from people and then consequently save lives. Our work is by the Grace of God, and we are expected to do it with humility.

‘’God doesn’t want when he gives you a power for something, you will use it to try to say that you are like him or you are competing with him. Use that power with humility, our profession is a profession of intelligent men.

‘’Doctors should ask themselves questions.  Why is it that it is when your colleagues are in government that you go on greatest forms of strike?  Some of those colleagues were presidents, secretary general of NMA and even NARD.
‘’Onyebuchi Chukwu faced strikes, former NANS president, Isaac Adewole former NAN president, plenty of strikes.  Since our government came into power, I have faced four strikes. Something is wrong.  we need to ask our selves some questions and be straight forward with the answers’’.

He urged the elders to deliberate and come up with solutions that will help in moving the health sector forward.

Also speaking, the Emir of Shonga, Dr. Haliru Yahaya advised medical colleges to sustain the unique traditional training values of physical examination and taking proper medical history of patients during diagnosis.

The Emir also said the Nigerian health sector has dropped from its glory days when foreigners sought medical attention in Nigeria to a period of more medical institutions with less quality of output, mass brain drain, poor welfare for medical professionals resulting in incessant strike actions among other challenges.

On his part, the NMA president Prof Innocent Ujah said, certain circulars from the National Salaries and Wages Commission (NSIWC) and the National University Commission (NUC), were reasons behind the disharmony in the health sector.
Describing the circulars as worrisome, Prof Ujah said they were contradictory and needed to be tackled to avoid creating more problems for health professionals.
‘’Circular from Salaries and Wages Commission is coming out that no more CONMESS for doctors who are lecturers.
“Without PhD you can’t teach at the clinical level, you can only teach biochemistry or physiology and then you are saying that the best can no longer be a Vice Chancellor, he can be a professor but he can’t be a Vice Chancellor, what kind of contradiction is that?’’, he questioned.
Earlier, Dr. Aminu Magashi, AHBN Executive Director in his welcome address emphasized the need for a strong political will, commitment from leaders and effective health system governance to achieve quality health care delivery in the country.  
He stressed the need for the medical professional bodies to come together, adding that until that is done, the quality services that Nigerians desired cannot be achieved.
‘’The medical and dental profession is critical and key to the socio economic and political growth and development of any nation, including Nigeria, and its health care system.
‘’While the profession which is driven largely through the NMA and its affiliate bodies, has been a major pivot for repositioning and advancing the profession, the efforts of various governments to translate the associations laudable recommendations for the growth, development and good of the profession has been less satisfactory’’, Magashi said.    

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