LAGOS – The Healthcare Federation of Nigeria (HFN) on Monday urged doctors to seek alternative means of channeling their grievances rather than embarking on strike.
The HFN is an umbrella body of all Nigerian Private Healthcare Practitioners with the objective of ensuring access to quality and affordable healthcare for all Nigerians.
The participants at a stakeholders forum organised by the federation in Lagos to discuss the ongoing strike embarked upon by the Nigerian Medical Association (NMA) and the disharmony between doctors and other health workers.
They said that strike by health workers could put the health and safety of patients at risk.
According to them, doctors go into the medical profession to save lives as well as to make the health and safety of patients their utmost priority.
The federation’s President, Mrs Clare Omatseye, said that such actions exposed patients to hardship, increased mortality and morbidity across the government-owned health facilities.
The participants agreed that personal interest, ego, money, leadership tussles and conflicts between doctors and other health workers had taken over the country`s health sector.
According to Omatseye, these problems affected the healthcare system negatively and required urgent action.
“Sixty per cent of Nigerians patronise the private health sector, while the other 40 per cent depend on the public health sector for their health needs.
“With this ongoing NMA strike, these 40 per cent are not getting the needed healthcare services and this could have a negative impact on our health.
“We as a non-political and `patient centric` organisation cannot keep quiet and allow things to fall apart; we urge doctors to consider the plight and sufferings of patients and go back to work,” she said.
Omatseye urged the Federal Government to address the disharmony between doctors and other health workers, adding that healthcare was all about teamwork.
In her contribution, Mrs Elizabeth Okonkwo, a former Registrar of the Medical Laboratory Science Council of Nigeria, condemned the constant rivalry among health workers.
“We need to respect one another and put the health and lives of our patients first before any other issue.
“This is because when health workers are not in agreement as we have in the case of doctors and other health workers, it is at the detriment of the patients,” she said
Dr Dominic Ukpong, National President, Society of Occupational and Environmental Health Physicians of Nigeria, urged the NMA and other health workers to come together, discuss and resolve their differences.
Ukpong said that doctors being the leaders of any medical team should exhibit good leadership by speaking for all the members of the team and not just for doctors alone.
He also called on Federal Government to keep to the different agreements it had entered into with the different groups to avoid future strikes.
Also speaking, Mr Anthony Akhimien, President of the African Pharmaceutical Forum said that the replication of global best practices should be adopted to put an end to the problems in the health sector.
In his remark Sunny Kuku, Grand Patron of the Federation condemned the doctors action, saying it was against the purpose of medical care.
Kuku also urged lawmakers to enact a `No strike` law in the health sector as obtained in the military era to curb incessant strikes in the sector as medical practice formed a part of essential services.
He also called for a re-definition of the role of each healthcare provider to avoid conflicts and allow for harmonious work environment that would yield positive health outcome.
The NMA members had on July 1 began an indefinite nationwide strike in protest of Federal Government’s non-implementation of some agreements it had with the union.
Their other demands include immediate appointment of a Surgeon-General of the Federation and increase of hazard allowance to N100, 000 monthly.
The doctors are also demanding reservation of the position of the Chief Medical Director for medical doctors only. (NAN)