Doctors have shut down hospitals across Abia State over 24-month salary arrears owed doctors and other staff of the Abia State Teaching Hospital, Aba ABSUTH; and 13 months owed their counterparts at the Health Management Board, HMB.
The shutdown affecting both public and private hospitals, according to the doctors is indefinite.
Doctors had last week, barricaded the entrance gate to the Government House Umuahia, demanding immediate payment of the backlog of salary arrears.
The doctors had the re-emphasised their earlier threat to shut down all hospitals in the state and proceed on indefinite strike should Government remain adamant about their demands.
But the doctors who filed out in their numbers chanting solidarity songs for their affected colleagues were snubbed by Government as no Government official received or attended to them.
Speaking with the press on the development on Wednesday, January 18, 2023, the State Secretary of the Nigeria Medical Association, Dr Daniel Ekeleme, said that the strike was total and indefinite.
He said it had already received 98% compliance at the Federal Medical Centre Umuahia as doctors stayed away from duty.
The NMA Scribe vowed that doctors in the state would sustain the measure until Government did the needful.
He, however, said the situation could be reviewed as things unfolded.
Meanwhile, only skeletal services were going on in some of the private hospitals visited by our Correspondent in Umuahia.
Patients were observed expressing anger over the development.
Mr Emeka Ibe who was attending to a relative hospitalised in one of the hospitals in town urged the Government to quickly attend to the needs of the striking doctors to avoid crisis in the health sector.
“It’s a very big disaster. Government should pay them. Government should not wait until people start dying like fowls”.
439 Foreign-Trained Doctors Failed Assessment Exam By Nigerian Health Regulatory Agency
A total of 439 foreign-trained medical and dental graduates failed the assessment examination conducted by the Medical and Dental Council of Nigeria.
The two-day assessment examination was conducted on November 23 and November 24, 2022, at the Usmanu Danfodiyo University Teaching Hospital, Sokoto.
Tijani Sanusi, the council’s registrar, disclosed this in an exclusive interview with our correspondent on Sunday, December 11, 2022.
Sanusi said 916 foreign-trained medical and dental candidates sat for the assessment examination but only 477 candidates passed.
“24 candidates sat for the examination in Dentistry, eight passed and 16 failed. 892 candidates sat for the medical examination, 469 passed and 423 failed,” he explained.
Describing the assessment examination as a global practice, Sanusi said no professional is allowed to practise in another jurisdiction without sitting for the examination.
He explained, “It is a global practice that if you train in a particular jurisdiction and you want to go to another jurisdiction, you subject yourself to an assessment examination.
“Even if you are a Professor of Medicine here and you have never practised in the United Kingdom or the United States, when you go in there, you subject yourself to their assessment examination.”
The PUNCH reports that the MDCN assessment examination is compulsory for all foreign-trained doctors who plan to practise in Nigeria.
The MDCN regulates the practice of Medicine, Dentistry and Alternative Medicine in the country in the most efficient manner that safeguards the best healthcare delivery.
The assessment examination is meant for foreign-trained medical doctors and dental surgeons who want to practise in Nigeria and it tests the candidates’ ability to apply their basic medical sciences and clinical skills in a healthcare setting.
The examination is to ensure that foreign-trained doctors show themselves capable of practising in Nigeria.
On passing the examination, they are given a provisional licence to practise in Nigeria.
It is this provisional licence medical and dental graduates will use to practise during their one-year housemanship after which they are given a licence of full registration.
Brain Drain: NARD Raises Alarm Over 4,000 Medical Doctors Set To Leave Nigeria
The Nigerian Association of Resident Doctors, NARD, has raised the alarm over plan by 4,000 of its members to disengage their services in the country and migrate abroad for greener pastures.
The association also expressed worries over the government’s treatment of members, saying with government’s nonchalant attitude to members salaries, welfare, and other deserved packages, the country might be heading to a point where it would have no doctors anymore.
While revealing that 4,000 of its members had so far indicated interest to leave the country, in addition to 2,000 doctors it said the country had lost to the outside world in the last two years, NARD tasked the government to halt the drift by doing the needful to avoid what it described as a disaster in the nation’s health sector.
Although he admitted that mobility of labour is recognized anywhere in the world, he, however, said there are several reasons people could decide to leave their countries or migrate to other places, tasking government to find out the reasons and address them.
The NARD president, who was responding to questions on the brain drain among other issues in the nation’s health sector, said: “Mobility of labour is recognized anywhere in the world. There are several reasons people can decide to leave their counties or migrate to other places, even to move from one state to the other in the same country to work, ranging from welfare services, remuneration, working condition, security, and other social issues.
”What government should do is to try to find out why and then address it. That is what a serious government does, because the truth is that it is really a very serious problem in the health sector as we speak and we believe it is an emergency and that if nothing is done urgently to arrest the drift, we would come to a stage where we won’t have doctors in our hospitals.
“Over the past two years or so, we have lost over 2,000 doctors to the outside world and on average, we lose between 100 and 160 doctors every month.
“We are not just talking about the low-level staff here, we are talking about the highly specialized doctors leaving the country. And when you undertake studies to know why they are leaving, 80 percent of them responded that it is because of poor remuneration.
“The salary structure we are using now came into being in 2009. That is over 13 years ago and part of the agreement we had with government then was that it should be reviewed after five years. And that five years was in 2014.
”Till now, we have been writing for it to be reviewed but we have not made any significant headway on that. You know the living conditions in 2009 compared to now, with regard to inflation, dollar exchange rate, and all that.
“As a matter of fact, somebody like me, I’m a senior registrar, but what I was paid in 2009 as a house officer, if you will get the dollar equivalent, you would realize that it was even more than what I’m being paid now.
”So there is nobody that will see that kind of thing and stay back, especially seeing a place where your work is better appreciated that you won’t be tempted to go there.
There may be no doctors in Nigeria soon.
“As I’m talking to you now, we have found that over 4,000 of our members have indicated interest in migrating within the shortest possible time and if that happens, I can assure you that it would be a disaster, it will lead to poor patient management and difficulty in assessing health care.
“Patients who come to hospitals will have long clinic hours, such that a patient that should ordinarily see a doctor within one hour can spend the whole day because if you have one doctor attending to more patients than he should, of course, he won’t give in his best and even the patient would have to wait much longer to be attended to.
”You can see the huge gap, and it would continue to worsen if the government doesn’t don’t do the right thing.”
Dr Orji, who said the leadership of his organisation had been discussing with the government on the need to do the right things, regretted that the latter was not expediting actions in addressing the identified grey areas.