Nigeria – End the doctors’ strike [Sun, The (Nigeria)]

July 21, 2014 2:02 pm0 commentsViews: 28
Source : Google

Source : Google

When doctors in the public sector embarked on a total nationwide strike on July 1, 2014, Nigerians were plunged once again into the misery and untold pain that usually accompany such actions. Till date, public health facilities across the country have remained paralysed, as the government has been unable to get the doctors to call off their strike. Sadly, the doctors are digging in their heels on their 24-point demand, insisting on continuing the withdrawal of their services until the government meets their demands.

It is worrisome, indeed, that Nigerians have become pawns in a self-centred game of chess between recalcitrant doctors and their employers, the government. Even more disheartening is the fact that doctors, in the past 14 years, have virtually made it an annual ritual to withdraw their services for all kinds of reasons.

For instance, we find offensive the doctors’ opposition to the right of other health workers to accept what their employers has offered them. While there is nothing wrong with collective bargaining power being deployed by the doctors, they have certainly crossed the line in taking exception to how the government treats other health workers. The Nigerian Medical Association (NMA), under the leadership of Dr. Obembe, will do well to recognise that the relationship between doctors and other health workers is not a master-servant one. The terms of employment of the two categories of medical personnel are independent of one another.

However, there is enough blame to go round. Public sector doctors in the country appear to have conveniently forgotten the Oath of Life they swore to when they took the Hippocratic Oath at their induction. Their quest for better working conditions seems to have beclouded their sense of professionalism and responsibility for the lives of patients under their care. That is why they resort to strikes often while their poor and defenceless patients die preventable deaths.

On the other side of the coin is an inefficient government that has left undone what it should do. Over the years, the health sector has descended steadily into an abyss. Hospitals are under-funded andunder-equipped. Policies that should prosper the sector and help it meet world standards are politicised. Worse still, is how government keeps reneging on agreements it reaches with the doctors year in, year out. It is like the government thrives on signing agreements and backing out of them even before the ink is dry on the stationery. How can the nation hope to get out of this maze when those who run its health system care less about the system and the doctors behave like their calling comes a poor second to financial considerations?

Each time Nigerian doctors go on strike, one of the swords they brandish is world’s best practice. They accuse the government of not adhering to international standards, yet they are even the more guilty of this. When doctors go on strike in other climes, it is not total like wehave it in Nigeria. When doctors went on strike in Britain in 2012, the doctors still reported in the hospitals for urgent and emergency cases. In 1966, in the United States of America, striking doctors merely shifted emergency cases to 21 city hospitals and kept open 58 other hospitals for restricted services.In both instances, there was no total lockdown of the health sector.

Doctors’ strikes in Nigeria rank among the most inconsiderate in the world. For instance, it is a well known fact that a huge percentage of doctors who work in public hospitals have thriving private practices to which they refer patients while their strikes last. Some of these private hospitals do not even meet the standard regulations set by the Ministries of Health in the jurisdictions they operate.

It is disheartening that Nigerian doctors do not cherish the lives of their patients. Once they call out a strike for whatever reason, it unleashes all-encompassing grief on Nigerians. In a country where it has been reported that 61 per cent of the population is poor, and where life expectancy is only 54 years, total lockdown of public hospitals by doctors is mean, cruel and absolutely unacceptable.

We condemn this insensitive strike in totality. The attempt of the doctors to justify their action is unacceptable. Pocketing taxpayers’ money as salaries and refusing to do the jobs they are paid for is odious, to say the least.

It is embarrassing that doctors who took an oath to uphold the sanctity of life now embark on strikes like daily paid workers. It is also time the National Assembly amended the appropriate laws to protect Nigerians from such life-threatening strikes.

We urge the government to resolve the issues at stake and save the lives of Nigerians. This doctors’ strike is self-serving and unedifying to both their persons and the medical profession. Let the doctors return to the path of honour and their duty posts expeditiously.

[Source : pharmacychoice]

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