NMA counters Ngige, says Minister goofed over claim doctors aren’t paid abroad

April 4, 2021
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THE Nigerian Medical Association (NMA), on Saturday, said Minister of Labour and Employment Chris Ngige erred in his claim that resident doctors were not paid by government or institutions outside Nigeria.

NMA said, in a statement signed by its president and secretary-general Innocent Ujah and Philips Ekpe respectively, that the claim was a hate speech and capable of bringing down the nation’s health sector.

The doctors said against Ngige’s claim, resident doctors were paid where they worked in the US and UK, as well as other parts of the world.

“The NMA is totally in disagreement with the way and manner some government functionaries carry out their duties, which is completely insensitive to the plight of the people. Accountability is the fulcrum for good governance in all facets and we do not demand anything less from those charged with the responsibility of governing the people,” part of the statement read.

According to NMA, government should improve the welfare of doctors and other health workers, saying it was the most sustainable means of delivering quality health care to the people of the country.

“Perhaps, this will help to reduce the current brain drain being experienced, that is dealing a deadly blow to our health care delivery system, which has made our hospitals to be regarded as mere consulting clinics,” the group added.

Ngige had said, in an interview with Channels Television on Friday April 2, 2021, that resident doctors were only paid in Nigeria, but not in the US, UK and other nations.

But, facts obtained by The ICIR showed the minister was wrong.

The ICIR gathered from several websites that UK pays its trainee doctors. A 2015 BBC’s report appeared most authoritative among others obtained by our reporter while filing this report.

A screenshot of John Hopkins Hospital’s website indicating how resident doctors are paid.

Similarly, resident doctors are paid in the US. The John Hopkins Hospital in the US pays resident doctors, as many website linked with the US show resident doctors in the country are paid.

Ngige had said in 2019 that doctors were free to leave Nigeria, boasting that the country had enough. He received wide bashings for the comment.

Ngige is a medical doctor who retired from the Federal Ministry of Health before becoming governor of Anambra state in 2003.

The ICIR had reported on Tuesday, March 30, 2021, that National Association of Resident Doctors (NARD), one of the groups of medical doctors in the country, would be embarking on strike over failure of the government to pay housemen and meet other demands of the association.

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NARD made true its threat on April 1 as it directed its members across all public health facilities in the country to down tools.

The strike has led to partial or complete absence of medical services in most public tertiary institutions in the country.

As all attempts to placate the practitioners yielded no result, the federal government, through Ngige, threatened to invoke ‘no work, no pay’ against the doctors on Friday April 2.

But, the practitioners have vowed the action would continue.

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