Minister of Health, Professor Onyebuchi Chukwu, failed to deliver on his promise that the strike embarked upon by the Nigerian Medical Association (NMA) on July 1will be called off on Monday, as the doctors have reiterated their resolve not to return to work until their demands are met.
An emergency delegate meeting of the NMA held in Abuja from around 10:20pm on Monday till 3:45 on Tuesday did not bring respite to patients shut out of government hospitals all over the country.
Aside from the national executive of the NMA and delegates from its state chapters, other stakeholders attended the meeting.
They include minister of Health, Professor Onyebuchi Chuwku; Delta State Governor, Dr. Emmanuel Uduaghan; Ondo State Governor, Dr. Olusegun Mimiko; Chairman, Senate Committee on Health, Dr. Ifeanyi Okowa; and his House of Representatives counterpart, Honourable Ndudi Elumelu.
It became obvious that the meeting ended with no positive result on Tuesday morning when the NMA cancelled a press conference it had earlier scheduled for 11am.
The association later issued a terse statement in the evening vowing to continue with the strike.
The statement reads: “The NMA held an Emergency Delegates Meeting on Monday 7th July 2014 at the Savannah Suite Hotel and Resort, Area 3, Garki, Abuja in which delegates from the 36 States and the FCT attended and after a holistic review of the circulars and resolutions reached between the NMA and the Federal Government negotiation team; the delegates were not satisfied with the outcome of the meeting between the two parties and resolved to continue with the strike action until the Federal Government does the needful as it relates to the minimum end point of the NMA to the Federal Government towards facing the challenges of the Health Sector and the restoration of sanity”.
Speaking on the decision of the NMA, President of an affiliate organisation, the Medical and Dental Consultants Association of Nigeria (MDCAN), Dr. Steven Oluwole, explained that strike wasn’t called off because most of the issues raised by doctors have not been sufficiently addressed by government.
MDCAN has said its members will continue to provide services in hospitals in obedience of the restraining order contained in a ruling by the National Industrial Court in its case against the Federal Government in which both parties were asked to maintain the status quo until the case was resolved.
On how long his members will continue treating patients considering the resolve of doctors not to return to work, Oluwole said: “As long as it takes. But you have to appreciate that it will be deceptive to expect consultants to maintain the system for longer than the very short term.
“Since hospitals are not designed for only consultants to function, quick resolutions are needed before the situation deteriorates further.”