The Nigeria Media Association (NMA), Federal Ministry of Health Chapter which has been re-activated on 6th June, 2020 by the Congress and to which all Medical Doctors working in any capacity, which includes even the Honourable Minister, Dr. Osagie Ehanire and the Honourable Minister of State, belong, has paid a courtesy call on the Honourable Minister of Health, Tuesday, 14th July, 2020.
Led by the Chairman of the Interim EXCO, Dr. Zakariya Mohammed, the NMA members in Federal Ministry of health stated that they are taking advantage of inclusive government and an open door policy being operated by the Minister to gain access to him “not to make much demands” but also to pledge the loyalty of their Congress to the Honourable Minister’s leadership and management team.
In a statement read at the occasion of the courtesy call, Chairman of the Interim EXCO of the NMA, Dr. Mohammed extended the warm felicitations of the body to the Honourable Minister of Health and his team for the efforts on COVID-19 response in the country particularly the development of the Integrated Health Sector COVID-19 Response Plan which is meant to guide the country’s response and ensure harmonization.
The NMA, Federal Ministry of Health Chapter further seized the opportunity of its courtesy call on the Honourable Minister to convey the appreciation of the Congress of the Association for considering their ranks for the payment of the special COVID-19 hazard allowance, some of whom, the Interim EXCO Chair revealed, have already received credit alert. “This will certainly go a long way in motivating the healthcare workers in the Ministry.”
However, like Oliver Twist, the NMA, FMOH Chapter requested among other things from the Honourable Minister that its members, “despite being closest to the leadership of the Health Sector, are the ones being left out or lagging behind in matters to do with welfare of Doctors in the Country” but expressed the hope of its Congress “that this narratives will change during” the Honourable Minister’s tenure. They cited the example that, “only our members among Doctors in the Federal Government’s Payroll are yet to enjoy skipping.”
Putting their requests to the Honourable Minister succinctly, they prayed for:
- The capacity building for members in areas of Leadership and Management and other relevant Professional trainings.
- The implementation of skipping for our members to reduce the existing gross disparity in the salary of our members and Colleagues in other Federal Institutions and MDAs.
The Director, Hospital Services, Dr. Adebimpe Adebiyi, also a member of the NMA FMOH Chapter who spoke during the occasion pointed out that the courtesy call should be seen as a “Family meeting” and the coming of the Body to the Honourable Minister as a “familiarization meeting” with subsequent ones referred to the Department of Hospital Services especially when they have some demands to make.
The Honourable Minister of Health while responding told the NMA FMOH Chapter said that it feels nice to know that the body exists and that they need to know that they are the “closest NMA group” to the Ministry and “that presents you with opportunities and values; there will be instances where you will be representing the main body of NMA and also to stand in and improve interaction; what we call a bridge.” He also charged them to note that the profession they are in, is the most respected in every society, because every other person or professionals are potentially the patient of the medical doctor. He told them to note the responsibility that they carry and to use their influences to mitigate all those tendencies and to ignore those who think the easiest way of finding answers to disagreements is to go on strike and closing their eyes to a number of people who lose their lives during those processes. “There is no strike, he said, “that will not cost some people their lives.” He said, for him, “that is too high a price to pay.”
Ehanire told his visiting colleagues to also know that the health system of Nigeria is not very strong and it has been further challenged with the outbreak of COVID-19 and that Nigeria like every country else in the world was not prepared in any way for the pandemic.
He also told them that his leadership has been prepared to harness the wisdom and experience of everyone who is a doctor. “The profession of medicine”, he said, “apart from caring for life is also a profession of leadership which does not mean that we are better than others, “not at all.” “Everybody is important, everybody deserves his respect, the laboratory scientist, the radiographer, the nurse, they all deserve their respect, their regard, they are not junior, they are not inferior, everybody is a team member. That is how to build a workforce.” With those nuggets, the Honourable Minister thanked the NMA FMOH Chapter members for coming to interact with him.
Director, Information, Media & Public Relations.