NMA applauds Senate over Medical Dental Council Bill

…accuses JOHESU of blackmailing doctors, govt

By Hassan Zaggi

The Nigeria Medical Association (NMA) has applauded the Nigerian Senate, especially, the Senate Committee on Health, chaired by Senator  Ibrahim Oloriegbe, over the way and manner they handled the recently held public hearing on Medical and Dental Council of Nigeria (Repeal and Re-enactment) Bill SB. 480 and four other Bills.

The bill (SB. 480) seeks to repeal and re-enact the Medical and Dental Practitioners Act Cap M8. LFN 2004, which was enacted by Decree 23 of 1988 and amended by Decree 78 of 1992.

NMA gave the commendation in a statement signed by its President, Innocent Ujah and Secretary General, Dr Philips Uche Ekpe, in Abuja, Sunday.

It would be recalled that after the public hearing, the JOHESU held a press conference threatening that it will soon embark on strike action if the Bill was not suspended and other of its demands met.

“JOHESU and AHPA warn that if this burning issues and other demands of health workers are not resolved as soon as possible, we can no longer guarantee industrial peace in the health sector nationwide,” it said during the briefing. 

The statement by the NMA was in reaction to the comments made by members of JOHESU after the Senate Public hearing on Medical and Dental Council of Nigeria (Repeal and Re-enactment) Bill SB. 480 and four other Bills.

The NMA noted that Senator Ibrahim Oloriegbe and members of his committee performed excellently well, as, according to them,  “they exhibited maximum degree of decency, decorum and exemplary leadership, even in the face of unruly behaviour of some JOHESU members in the hall.

“JOHESU’s desire was more to instigate a crisis by the issuance of unguarded threats to the nation’s health and public servants who carried out their lawful duty.

“Members of NMA salute the patience, understanding, maturity and wisdom of the Chairman and his very well organized team for the courage and wisdom in managing the public hearing involving five Bills within one day.”

 The NMA further reiterated that the effort of the Senate was timely, appropriate, and necessary to bring the regulation of Medicine and Dentistry in Nigeria up to date with respect to advancements and developments in healthcare nationally and internationally.

The NMA said that it welcomes the Bill wholeheartedly.

“NMA is happy that the Bill seeks to reinforce the perpetuity of the Medical and Dental Council by making it immune to frequent and unnecessary disruptions through dissolution each time there is a change of government.

“The Bill also makes it easier for the Medical and Dental Practitioners’ Disciplinary Tribunal to try cases of professional misconduct against doctors in a timelier manner.

“It also provide more realistic sanctions against doctors who are found guilty by the Disciplinary Tribunal.

“The current state of affairs is such that cases linger for years due to the frequent dissolution of the Council and the Disciplinary Tribunal. And when the Tribunal finds a doctor guilty of professional misconduct, the extant law does not permit it to suspend such a doctor for more than six months. The next most severe sanction is erasure from the Medical Register.

“We support the clear delineation of the function of the Council proposed in the Bill.

“The Passage of the Bill and assent will settle the unnecessary confusion, inter-professional acrimony and friction in the health sector,” the statement noted.

While accusing  the JOHESU of what it described as their penchant for blackmailing Nigerian doctors and the government at any slightest perceived opportunity, the NMA explained that: “Following the well organised and well conducted Public Hearing on the 5 unprecedented health-related bills, it was surprising to note the outburst and apprehension over the provisions of the Bill by members of professions allied to Medicine and Dentistry in Nigeria under aegis of an amorphous body called JOHESU.

 “We believe that these feelings are misguided and emanate from a misunderstanding and ignorance of the purpose of the Bill among these professionals, and mischief by a few of their leaders who exploit the misunderstanding and ignorance among their members.”

The NMA, therefore, appealed to the general public and the NASS “to ignore the dying voice of the paranoiac JOHESU who have sustained their attacks on Nigerian Doctors purely out of jealousy and envy, to get through the backdoor what they could not achieve while in school.

“NMA wishes to invite JOHESU members to join forces with the Medical and Dental Practitioners to improve the health circumstances of our people  rather than threatening to go on strike for the wrong treasons at any slightest flimsy excuses

“I wish to appeal to governments and good spirited individuals to advice members of JOHESU and their cohort to go to medical school to read medicine and become Medical Doctors or for ever, leave Doctors and the Medical Profession alone. They should stop expressing their frustration towards a very intelligent group and members of the noble profession of Human Medicine.”

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