President Muhammadu Buhari, on Friday met with members of the Nigeria Medical Association (NMA) at the State House, Abuja, urging the health workers to return to their duty posts and others contemplating strikes to opt for settlement by negotiation, no matter how long it takes
According to a statement by his Senior Special Assistant on Media and Publicity, Garba Shehu,
Buhari noted that the lives of citizens that could be lost or damaged when doctors withdraw services, are precious enough to be worth opting for peaceful resolution of differences
Speaking on the outstanding issue of an Establishment circular issued by the Head of Service, removing House officers, NYSC Doctors from scheme of service, he expressed he had an addendum circular from National Salaries and Wages Commission to clarify that they will continue to earn the wages attached to them on their present wage structure. He also requested that the agreement reached in the meetings of 20th and 21st of August captured in the MOU be religiously implemented.
Speaking further, Buhari stated that, to improve the health sector, budgetary allocations had been increased and a Health Sector Reform Committee, under the Chairmanship of the Vice President, had been commissioned to identify and address weaknesses in the Health System and align with global best practices that raise public confidence.
Admitting that many more challenges lie ahead, he declared that the government was also supporting initiatives to expand health insurance coverage and bring more resources to health financing.
He further commended the role the NMA has been playing as the apex professional medical association in Nigeria, especially with regard to the ongoing industrial action.
Also speaking at the meeting, Minister of Health, Dr. Osagie Ehanire, said the NMA had been playing a critical role in the development of the health sector, particularly in tackling pandemics, participating in policy formulation and population health.
Responding, the president of the NMA, Prof. Innocent A. Ujah, thanked Buhari for the appointment of members into strategic positions in government, and assent to the Medical Residency Act and immunization coverage.
Ujah noted that the association was concerned with the industrial action embarked upon by doctors and had been doing its best to alleviate the suffering of patients across the country while appealing for an urgent resolution.
He assured the president of the continuous support of members of the association to improve health in the country.
The meeting is coming 40 days after the National Association of Resident Doctors declared an indefinite strike.
The meeting was also attended by the Minister of Health, Dr. Osagie Ehanire, Minister of Labour, Chris Ngige, and Minister of State for Health, Olorunnimbe Mamora.