Health

October 9, 2023

Nigerian Dr Osahon Enabulele completes tenure as WMA President

Commonwealth doctors call for adherence to COVID-19 guidelines in New Year

Dr Osahon Enabulele

• Urges Physicians to remain united against oppression

By Chioma Obinna

Nigerian Dr. Osahon Enabulele Weekend handed over the leadership of the World Medical Association, WMA, to Dr. Lujain Al-Qodmani of Kuwait, after completing one year in office (2022-2023).

In his validatory speech at the 74th General Assembly of the WMA held in Kigali, Rwanda, Enabulele urged physicians to remain united in their struggle against oppression.

Enabulele who disclosed that there were disturbing cases of violence against physicians and other healthcare professionals within and outside their workplaces in the last year said his visit in the course of his tenure showed a consensus that the issue of violence was of great concern to physicians.

He charged physicians to stoutly resist attempts at undermining their fundamental human and labour rights, as well as their medical professional autonomy and clinical independence. Enabulele also decried poor awareness and perception of the WMA amongst individual physicians and citizens despite existing for over 75 years.

He charged the new leadership to create greater awareness amongst individual physicians and citizens, of what the WMA does and stands for.

“There is a need to also deconstruct the wrong perception in some quarters that the WMA is a missionary body and that the office of the WMA President is a salaried office.”

Lamenting the WMA’s relationship with the World Health Organisation, WHO, and the United Nations, UN, he said while the WMA has maintained her international relationship with the two bodies, he said the attitude of these bodies toward Civil Society Organisations, including the WMA, has been very disappointing.

“This certainly needs to change, if the expected dividends from such relationships are to be reaped. I consider unfortunate, in fact unacceptable, a situation where CSOs like the WMA are left to struggle for severely limited space with others, to advance their positions within these global bodies. Sometimes, the WMA is left on the fringes and only allowed to make their depositions within 1 or 2 minutes. The question that therefore needs to be addressed is whether global health can truly be advanced without bodies like the WMA.”

Speaking on his one-year tenure, Enabulele who said the year was characterised by engagements and activities that were undertaken at a frenetic pace said his team truly consolidated upon previous gains, and advanced initiatives that have transformed the WMA into a more visible organisation that resonates positively in international circles, in the minds of her constituent members, and individual physicians around the world.

“Importantly, we were able to undertake amongst others: Intense public advocacy for Universal Health Coverage, Resilient Health Care Systems, and Resilient Health Workforce.

“In realisation of the great need to reposition health care systems in a post-Covid-19 era, we intensified our advocacy efforts for the building of more resilient health care systems with a robust Physician-led multidisciplinary primary healthcare system, improved commitment to Universal Health Coverage, “One Health,” and greater investments in the well-being, working conditions, security and safety of the Human Resource for Health.” 

Noting some gains from their advocacy efforts, he admitted that health disparities and inequities still exist across the world. Calling on the new leadership to sustain their advocacy efforts, he said there were disturbing cases of violence against physicians and other healthcare professionals within and outside their workplaces in the past year. 

“Everywhere I visited in the course of my tenure, there was an evident consensus that this issue of violence was of great concern to physicians.  I am happy to state that we took very decisive steps against these unwarranted assaults and violence against our colleagues, by showing solidarity with them and loudly condemning these despicable acts of violence which undermine our colleagues, our medical profession, patients, and the health care delivery systems of the affected countries.

He stressed the need to sustain the call on physicians to keep faith with the ethical codes and to continuously demand Governments and health institutions across the globe to take practical measures, including the enforcement of legal and policy instruments, and the recently launched Global Health and Care Worker Compact, to stop violence against physicians and other health professionals.

On his development initiatives, he disclosed that the WMA Roundtable and Leadership Series was one of the significant developments recorded during his tenure. He said the initiative seeks to directly interface with physicians across the world, to improve their awareness and perception of the WMA, and impact their leadership, educational and professional development.

He said the maiden session of the roundtable was quite revealing and provided an added spark to further propel the initiative.

Other giant strides he recorded during his tenure include; a proposal for the WMA Global Healthcare Excellence Award Scheme and, the defence of members of the Turkish Medical Association who have been facing sustained assaults among others.

He expressed gratitude, to the Edo State Governor, Godwin Obaseki, members of the NMA, family and friends for their support through the one year in office.