Bello Wakili FRCN
President Muhammadu Buhari has called on health workers to return to their duty posts, urging others contemplating strikes to opt for settlement of issues by negotiation, no matter how long it takes.
The President stated this while receiving members of Nigeria Medical Association (NMA) at the State House.
He said the lives of citizens that could be lost or damaged when doctors withdraw services, are precious enough to be worth opting for peaceful resolution of differences
President Buhari assured that all outstanding benefits owed medical doctors will be cleared, after verifications, noting that embarking on industrial action at a critical health period for the country and citizens was not a good option.
President Buhari said the outstanding issue of an Establishment circular issued by the Head of Service, removing House officers, NYSC Doctors from scheme of service had an addendum circular from National Salaries and Wages Commission to clarify that they will continue to earn the wages attached to them on their present wage structure.
He requested that the agreement reached in the meetings of 20th and 21st August captured in the MOU which he have seen be religiously implemented
To further improve the health sector, the President said budgetary allocations had been increased and a Health Sector Reform Committee, under the Chairmanship of the Vice President, had been commissioned to identify and address weaknesses in the Health System and align with global best practices that raise public confidence.
President Buhari noted that Nigeria’s source of revenue over many years was dwindling, with a rising population.
The President commended the role of the Nigeria Medical Association has been playing, as the apex professional medical association in Nigeria, especially with regard to the ongoing industrial action.
He admonished that the course of Covid-19 in Nigeria was not yet entirely clear, and response to it must be collective.
In his remarks, the Minister of Health, Dr. Osagie Ehanire, said the NMA had been playing a critical role in development of the health sector, particularly in tackling pandemics, participating in policy formulation and population health.
President of the NMA, Prof. Innocent A. Ujah, thanked the President for appointment of members into strategic positions in government, assent to the Medical Residency Act and immunization coverage.
Ujah said the association was concerned with the industrial action embarked upon by doctors, and had been doing its best to alleviate the suffering of patients across the country, while appealing for an urgent resolution.
The NMA president thanked President Buhari for takeoff grant for first Federal University of Health Sciences in Otukpo, Benue State, Azare, Bauchi State and Ila Orangun, Osun State. Ujah suggested an appropriate funding module for the new institutions.
He assured the President of the continuous support of members of the association to improve health in the country.