The Minister of Labour and Employment, Sen. Chris Ngige, has condemned the spate of strikes in the health sector, describing it as inimical to the oath of medical profession.
Ngige said this at the opening of this year’s Annual General Meeting and scientific session of the Nigerian Medical Association (NMA), FCT Chapter, on Tuesday in Abuja.
Making reference to the medical doctors, Ngige said incessant strike was against the oath they swore to when they were inducted into the profession.
He added that the past government did not do well with regards to meeting agreements on remuneration, welfare, among others, in the profession.
He, however, said that there should be room for bargaining rather than endangering the lives of patients.
He then urged the NMA to look for a better way of resolving the lingering crisis in the sector so as to reduce the rate of strikes.
The minister said that in most cases, it was the patients that suffer the consequences and appealed to them to make the health of patients as their priority as enshrined in the oath of secrecy.
Ngige quoted some portion of the oath to remind the doctors which says “my patient will be my first consideration.
“I will not permit consideration of age, disease or disability, creed, ethnic origin, gender, nationality, political, race, sexual orientation or social standing to intervene between my duty and my patient.’’
The minister explained that “taking into consideration these provisions, you are not supposed to proceed on strike as a medical professional in any circumstance.’’
Responding, Dr Zara Mairami, the Chairman, FCT NMA, attributed the bane of poor healthcare facilities, the lack of universal health coverage, among others, to medical tourism outside the country.
Mairami explained that by right, every Nigerian was supposed to have access to quality healthcare services at an affordable rate, adding, however, that “the reverse was the case.’’
Making reference to the theme of the event “Universal Health Coverage: An Enduring Concept’’, she explained that if there was no universal health coverage for everyone, there was virtually no way every common man could access healthcare.
According to her, healthcare must be accessible by all, especially the poor in rural areas who could not afford it.
She said “if healthcare is accessible, the issue of medical tourism will be highly reduced.
“If we have the kind of facilities which other countries have, and have the requisite manpower that can boast of adequate welfare and job security, people will stay back home and access healthcare because they are sure to get the best.
“We all will then be sure of universal health if our hospitals are improved and everything is of best practice.’’