ASUU condemns attempt to use military to conduct exams in ESUT

THE leadership and members of the Medical and Dental Consultants of Nigeria, MDCAN, deserve a pat on the head for voluntarily opting out of the last eight-months strike of the Academic Staff Union of Universities, ASUU.

The ASUU strike grounded academic activities in most university campuses over the Federal Government’s failure to fulfill its signed Memorandum of Action, MOA, particularly with regard to the infrastructural revitalisation of our universities, addressing the poor pay structure of university lecturers, resolving the vexed issue of a foolproof payroll system and other issues.

The MDCAN is an association of senior medical doctors who are primarily responsible for the training of our young doctors. They also form the backbone of medical specialists who save lives at the various university teaching hospitals, and pace the Resident Doctors through the teething stages of their professional development.

Should such an important component of our tertiary education workforce down tools, it will probably be too much for the system to cope. People whose primary responsibility is to save lives should never be pushed to the point of embarking on strike.

The Federal Government’s unwillingness over the decades to solve the ASUU imbroglio once and for all after signing a series of undertakings to do so, is enough to frustrate even the most patriotic and humane worker. But MDCAN chose to stay back and continue their good work.

With that, the academic calendar of the medical institutions in our public sector universities continued to run seamlessly. If otherwise had been the case, we would have risked the failure to turn out a new set of medical doctors for one academic session. That would have hit us from both ends, given the large number of our medical and health sector workers who migrate for greener pastures abroad every year.

The sacrifice of the MDCAN can only be appreciated further when we look at the gloomy and worsening picture of inadequacy in the doctor to citizen ratio in Nigeria, especially under the regime of President Muhammadu Buhari. In 2015, Nigeria had only about 34,000 medical doctors serving about 190 million people.

Today, rather than increasing, the number has dropped to estimated 24,000. Out of these, 1,307 Nigerian-trained doctors were licenced by the British medical authorities over the past one year alone. Meanwhile, the Nigerian Medical Association, NMA, says Nigeria needs 237,000 doctors to serve over 200 million people. But because of the poor handling of the health sector by our political elite, less than half of doctors trained in Nigeria remain to serve their country.

We hope our next crop of leaders will attach the needed premium to fostering a better health system, rather than the practice of abandoning the people to their fate while getting treated abroad at public expense.

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