Why FG Sacks 16,000 Resident Doctors

Following the indefinite nationwide strike
embarked upon by residents doctors in
Nigeria, the Federal Government has sacked
all the doctors in the country indefinitely.
This is according to a circular dated 13
August, 2014, signed by L. N. Awute,
Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Health, on
behalf of the minister directed the
suspension of residency training
programme for doctors in the country.
The circular also called for the termination of
appointment of all resident doctors in the
country to enable the government appraise
the challenges facing the Nigerian health
sector.
It would be recalled that the doctors had
been on an indefinite nationwide strike
since 1 July, 2014
, in protest of Federal Government’s non-
implementation of some agreements it had
with the union.
Other demands being made by the resident
doctors included immediate appointment of
a Surgeon-General of the Federation and
increase of hazard allowance to N100,000
monthly.
The doctors were also demanding
reservation of the position of the chief
medical director for medical doctors only.
The circular, however noted that “this is
without prejudice to the employment of
Locum Physicians on six months renewable
contract, tied to productivity and good
behaviour.”
The circular sacking resident doctors
The locum appointments, the circular stated,
were to be approved by the president
through the minister of health.
“Let’s see how this will work. Except they
want to kill the teaching hospitals and the
health sector in general,” a resident doctor
told newsmen.
He explained that he believed the incessant
strike by resident doctors and the NMA was
what influenced the government’s decision
but doubted that it would be effective.
“In our own teaching hospital, about 90 per
cent of the doctors are resident doctors,
there are few medical officers. So how can
you sack 90 per cent of doctors in a
hospital?” he asked rhetorically.
While reacting to the sack order, chairman,
National Association of Resident Doctors
(NARD), Dr Jubril Abdullai, told the Nigerian
Tribune that the decision was illegal, adding
that the Nigeria Medical Association (NMA)
would take appropriate steps as regards the
situation.
According to the NARD boss, it was an act of
law that set up residency training
programme in Nigeria, adding that for the
country to abolish it, legal steps had to be
taken.
He noted that an emergency meeting had
just been held with the national body of
doctors, adding that “I can bet it with you
that this is just the beginning of the strike.”
In the same vein, vice president of Nigeria
Medical Association (NMA), Dr Titus Ibekwe,
while speaking on the matter, stated that
the association was in a meeting to discuss
the issue.
Resident doctors in Nigeria are doctors
being trained to become specialists/
consultants in different fields of medicine.
During their 4 to 5 years training to become
consultants, they work in different
government hospitals and make up the
majority of doctors in teaching hospitals.

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