By Sola Ogundipe & Chioma Obinna
As the Nigerian Medical Association (NMA) warms up to begin an indefinite strike, Minister of Health, Dr. Babatunde Oshotimehin, has called on Nigerians, corporate organisations to join in the plea to the Nigerian Medical Association (NMA) and all doctors in private practice not to embark on the proposed strike slated for Thursday.
The Minister also deployed his office to advocate the collective interest of all health professionals in the country.
Meanwhile, Pharmacists under the aegies of Pharmaceutical Society of Nigeria (PSN) has enjoined President Umaru YarAâ€™dua to establish a general salary scale for all workers in the public sector.
In a statement, the minister who, however, worried that if the doctors made good their threat, it might result to unnecessary deaths of Nigerians, explained that there was no disagreement nor dispute between the government and the doctors, adding there is â€œalready a signed agreement, wherein the government has acceded to their demands.â€
According to him, the agreement earlier signed between the doctors and the Federal Government is currently receiving attention, adding that â€œthere is a due process that must be followed within the government system for the agreement to be implemented.â€
The statement signed by the Special Assistant to the Minister on Communication, Mr. NiyiÂ Ojuolape, noted: â€œIt will take longer than July 15 for the Agreement to come to the point of implementation. The Minister of Health has given his word and pleaded with doctors that the process will have ended before or by the end of September.
â€œThe President has already expressed his willingness and commitment in principle to this process and it is expected that as soon as the figures are put together, the agreement will be put into effect. The agitation for improved wages and benefits has been on for over 11 years now and it is obvious that the present administration and especially the current leadership at the Federal Ministry of Health has demonstrated leadership and moved this process faster than any other before him,â€ the statement said.
Making the call for a unified salary scale weekend in Lagos, Chairman of the Pharmaceutical Society of Nigeria (Lagos State Branch), Pharm Lanre Familusi said the entry-points for each cadre of health worker would, however, differ based on their level of professional training and specialist or post-graduate qualification.
His words: â€œOther appraisal mechanisms will include duration of training and other work related hazards. This exercise should be made thorough and comprehensive to address all pending and potential sources of industrial unrest once and for all in Nigeria.â€