Premium Times (Abuja)

15 August 2014

Nigeria: NMA Dares Jonathan, Asks Resident Doctors to Reject Sack Letters

The Nigerian Medical Association, NMA, has ordered all resident doctors to reject the federal government directive and not collect any sack letters from the management of their hospitals.

After a meeting by the association's National Officers' Committee, NOC, on Friday, the doctors were also advised not to sign any register opened by the Nigerian government or any hospital.

On Thursday, President Goodluck Jonathan ordered the sack of about 16,000 resident doctors in Nigeria.

Resident doctors are also members of the NMA, which has been on strike since July 1.

The directive by Mr. Jonathan was stated in an internal memo dated August 13 and signed by the Permanent Secretary, Federal Ministry of Health, L.N. Awute. The memo was addressed to tertiary hospitals.

Mr. Awute said the directive was given in a view of the challenges facing the health sector while hospitals could employ part time doctors (locum) who must be of 'good behaviour'.

The memo also contained a sample of sack letters to be issued all the resident doctors in the different hospitals.

"In compliance with this order, I am to regrettably inform you that your appointment in this hospital is hereby terminated forthwith," the permanent secretary said in the specimen sack letter she asked hospitals to issue resident doctors.

However, the NMA, in its resolution, ordered medical doctors to not apply for part time job as directed by FG's circular.

"For the avoidance of doubt, no medical doctor no matter how hungry, should pick up any locum appointment with the government hospitals as directed by the circular. Any doctor who flouts this directive, does so at his/her own peril," the association said.

All doctors were also directed to remain committed to volunteering to help contain the Ebola Disease outbreak in Nigeria.

The association also advised the Nigerian government to ensure that people under the deadly disease surveillance do not travel outside their domain of residence.

The NMA also admonished all its members to remain calm and wait for further directive from the association.

The association condemned the president's directive and asked him to withdraw the suspension circular and unconditionally reinstate all the 'so-called sacked' resident doctors.

It demanded that the government show commitment in resolving current impasse with the association rather than resorting to punitive measures that will only further aggravate the already deplorable situation.

The federal government had in its circular indicated that the resident doctors were being sacked because the government was suspending residency training "indefinitely."

The NMA, however, advised that rather than abolish residency training, government should show more commitment towards improving the already poorly funded programme.

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