Speaker House of Representative, Aminu Tambuwal
By Steve Dada
The House of Representatives Committee on Health yesterday described as unconstitutional the indefinite strike by doctors in the employment of the Federal Government in solidarity with their sacked Lagos State counterparts and appealed to them to go back to work immediately.
There were also strong indications last night that the Nigerian Medical Association (NMA), Lagos State chapter may have a rethink concerning the crisis.
The NMA, in the wake of the strike, had threatened to ground health services in the state, if the government fails to end the face off with its doctors, within a given period of time.
However, Lagos State chapter of the Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN) has decried the threats and intimidations being dished out by the disengaged striking Lagos doctors on the newly recruited doctors.
But Chairman of the committee, Hon. Ndudi Elumelu, who led other members to an emergency meeting with Chief Medical Directors (CMDs) of the four Federal Government owned hospitals in Lagos, expressed worry over the crisis in the health sector.
“We are getting too many strikes in the health industry. It is important that for every action that we take, there is need to look at the legality and constitutionality of such actions. You do not use conflicts to resolve conflict. Continuous dialogue is the best option,” he said.
The chairman expressed concern over the plights of the patients, particularly the masses, who according to him, do not have better means of achieving better alternative health care. “The question now is that we have patients who have been left unattended to and not being cared for and as this strike is going on should we say that the salary should be stopped and that if we resolve the issues salary will start running?” he said.
Addressing the journalists after the meeting, Elumelu expressed optimism that the outcome of the meeting will achieve progress as the doctors promised to call an emergency meeting for the benefit of all.
Reacting to a question, Elumelu said: “We are here in respect of the Federal Government employees, who are on solidarity strike. That informed our visit.”
He hinted further that, “during our deliberation, it was agreed that doctors agreed to embark on this solidarity strike at their own meeting and for them to call it off, they also need that emergency meeting to enable them discuss, review the reasons for embarking on the strike and be able to come up with a quick resolution. Now you will agree with me that they need that space before the close of business today and which they have agreed they will do.”
Chairman of NMA, Lagos Chapter, Dr Edamisan Temiye, in response to the meeting, said NMA had agreed to hold an emergency meeting soonest to review the situation on ground, assuring that in the main time, the doctors would continue to take care of the in-patients on admission.
Meanwhile, ACN’s Publicity Secretary of the party, Mr. Joe Igbokwe, advised the sacked doctors to embrace dialogue and peace offered by Lagos State government position that it is still ready to listen to the sacked doctors and stop thinking they can be allowed to cripple the health sector in Lagos.
“We see the threat messages to the newly recruited doctors as a condemnable act that aims to completely paralysing health delivery in Lagos in the wake of the intransigence of the sacked doctors who decided to abandon their professional calling for personal comfort and other trivial benefits.
"We see this unprofessional conduct as demeaning of the status of doctors who should not be associated with anything that constitutes threat to lives and we condemn those behind this effort to scare away the newly recruited doctors from taking up the responsibilities the sacked doctors abandoned.
“While we condemn this resort to uncivilised self help by the sacked doctors, we urge them to go back to the negotiation table with the state government, which has declared that its doors are still open for further engagement with the sacked doctors.
“We urge them to put their acts together and signify intent to go back to work so as to allow for further talks with the government. We restate our position that medical doctors are life savers and that they undermine their professional callings by abandoning their professional duties in pursuit of added comfort,” the party stated.