President Muhammadu Buhari is trying to improve Nigeria’s health system despite frequent London medical trips, says junior health minister Olorunnimbe Mamora as he begs medical doctors to call off their ongoing strike.
He appealed to the National Association of Resident Doctors (NARD) to return to the negotiating table. The minister made the appeal at the opening ceremony of the 2021 Annual General Meeting and Scientific Conference of the Nigeria Medical Association (NMA), FCT chapter, on Tuesday in Abuja.
NARD’s nationwide indefinite strike started on August 2 to press home the implementation of the Memorandum of Understanding it entered into with the federal government in March 2021 on welfare and other issues that affect members.
Mr Mamora said discussing with the association and negotiating ways to address the issues raised by the association would ensure industrial peace and enable citizens to access healthcare.
He said, “I encourage you to ensure industrial peace in the health sector so that citizens can reap maximum benefits from your efforts. In saying this, there cannot be a better time and opportunity for me to appeal to doctors who are currently on strike.
“My appeal is that they return to the negotiating table so that whatever outstanding issues can be sorted out. That is my passionate appeal to all our colleagues.”
Mr Mamora also reiterated Mr Buhari’s commitment to addressing emerging and “re-emerging” infectious diseases, including expanding healthcare coverage in the country.
“President Muhammadu Buhari is taking all necessary steps to strengthen Nigeria’s preparedness and response to emerging and re-emerging infectious diseases through the provision of medical infrastructure,” he added. “One of these efforts is making medical oxygen available in tertiary institutions.
According to him, the health ministry is developing telemedicine and intends to maximise its use to expand healthcare coverage.
The minister admitted that primary healthcare facilities had become the weakest link in the health system due to their ineffectiveness to provide the services needed.
“We as a country cannot afford to be complacent because the cost of complacency in infectious disease control can be enormous,” he added.