By Joseph Erunke
The Nigerian Medical Association, NMA, has denied the claim by the Joint Health Sectors Union, JOHESU, that the ongoing Medical and Dental Council of Nigeria Repeal and Reenactment Bill, being pushed by the Senate was aimed at regulating only the health workers’ profession.
The NMA, in a statement, signed by its President, Prof. Innocent Ujah and Secretary General, Dr. Philips Ekpe, Sunday, accused JOHESU of engaging in blackmail against the Chairman, Senate Committee on Health, Sen. Ibrahim Oloriegbe, on the bill.
The organisation accused the health workers of being ignorant of the purpose of the bill, which it insisted, was aimed at enhancing the mandate of the MDCN in regulating the profession to protect the public from unprofessional and incompetent medical practitioners and dental surgeons.
It urged the JOHESU members to rather pursue medicine as their field of study than to constantly carry out their frustrations on its members being medical doctors.
He noted that contrary to JOHESU’s claims that the bill was out to regulate their professions, the Bill was clearly about regulating medical practitioners and dental surgeons alone, and never stated making rules for any other profession.
He said: “A group of misguided individuals, acting under an amorphous unregistered body (‘JOHESU’) unknown to law, are hell bent on blackmailing the Senate of the Federal Republic of Nigeria and particularly the Chairman of the Senate Committee on Health over matters they could not logically advance during the transparently managed Senate Public hearing on 5 health related Bills, held on Monday, February 1, 2021.
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“Nigerian Medical Association is happy that the Bill seeks to reinforce the perpetuity of the Medical and Dental Council by making it immune to frequent and unnecessary disruptions through dissolution each time there is a change of government. The Bill also makes it easier for the Medical and Dental Practitioners’ Disciplinary Tribunal to try cases of professional misconduct against doctors in a timelier manner. It also provide more realistic sanctions against doctors who are found guilty by the Disciplinary Tribunal.
“We support the clear delineation of the function of the Council proposed in the Bill. The Passage of the Bill and assent will settle the unnecessary confusion, inter-professional acrimony and friction in the health sector.”
He further said, “We believe that these feelings are misguided and emanate from a misunderstanding and ignorance of the purpose of the Bill among these professionals, and mischief by a few of their leaders who exploit the misunderstanding and ignorance among their members.
“A dispassionate and ponderous reading of the provisions of the Bill would make it clear to all reasonable persons who only seek to advance themselves without causing unnecessary acrimony and rancour in the health sector and health system, that the Bill is well intended and in tandem with contemporary Medical and Dental practice.
“Doctors practice Medicine and do not seek to practice Pharmacy, Medical Laboratory Science, Radiography or any other professions and occupations of persons who are not qualified to be registered as medical practitioners or dental surgeons.
“The Nigerian Medical Association believes that the Medical and Dental Council of Nigeria (Repeal and Re-enactment) Bill is intended to further strengthen the Medical and Dental Council of Nigeria in regulating the medical and dental professions to protect the public by ensuring that registered medical practitioners and dental surgeons are competent persons who practice safe, ethical, and responsible medicine.
“We fully support the Bill and call upon members of the Professions Allied to Medicine and Dentistry and members of the public in general to support the Bill for the advancement of quality healthcare delivery in Nigeria.
“We appeal to the general public and the NASS to ignore the dying voice of the paranoiac JOHESU who have sustained their attacks on Nigerian Doctors purely out of jealousy and envy, to get through the backdoor what they could not achieve while in school.
“NMA wishes to invite JOHESU members to join forces with the Medical and Dental Practitioners to improve the health circumstances of our people rather than threatening to go on strike for the wrong treasons at any slightest flimsy excuses
“I wish to appeal to governments and good spirited individuals to advise members of JOHESU and their cohort to go to medical school to read medicine Medical Doctors or for ever, leave Doctors and the Medical Profession alone. They should stop expressing their frustration towards a very intelligent group and members of the noble profession of Human Medicine.