By Asmau Ahmad
The Medical and Dental Consultants Association of Nigeria has suspended its planned nationwide strike by three months following an appeal by the Coordinating Minister of Health and Social Services, Professor Muhammad Ali Pate.
The decision was part of the resolutions reached by MDCAN and contained in a communiqué issued at the end of its 13th Biennial Delegates meeting held in Kano.
President of MDCAN, Professor Aminu Muhammad, said in view of the appeal made by the minister of health, the association resolved to extend the ultimatum by three months.
“We resolved to extend the ultimatum to allow the Federal Government to address all the pending issues.
“If government fails to address these demands at the end of the three months, we will go ahead with our next line of action,” he said.
Speaking on the challenge of brain-drain, Prof. Muhammad explained that available records show that over 500 highly trained doctors and consultants have left Nigeria.
He appealed to the federal government to urgently provide a holistic solution to the challenges of brain-drain, which should include incentives, to encourage retention of the already depleted health care human resources in Nigeria.
“Critical stakeholders in medical education should work together to fashion out sustainable pathways for improving the quality and quantity of medical and dental graduates in Nigeria,” he added.
The MDCAN president called on government at all levels to save the medical education through provisions of improved infrastructure, adequate funding and renumeration for staff.
The council had on August 23, issued a 21-day ultimatum to the federal government to meet its demands or face industrial disharmony.
MDCAN National Executive Council (NEC) said it was dismayed by the non-implementation of the jointly agreed upward review of CONMESS and the introduction of Accoutrement allowance with the Nigerian Medical Association, as the released circular only captured the percentage increase on the basic salary, as against applying it to both the basic salaries and all allowances, except hazard allowance.
This error, the council said, resulted in the complete exclusion of the clinical lecturers (Honorary Consultants) from benefitting from the upward review.
MDCAN said inspite of its decision to keep faith with the engagement and negotiations with the National Salaries Incomes and Wages Commission for more than two years regarding the correction of the shortfalls in remuneration for Clinical Lecturers (Honorary Consultants), the issue is yet to be conclusively addressed by the federal government.
The council said it observed the non-universal implementation of CONMESS for all medical and dental doctors irrespective of the agencies of the government they are working with.
The council decried the failure of the government to appreciate the magnitude of the impacts brain drain was having on the health sector, as exhibited by the refusal of the National Council on Establishment to approve the Federal Ministry of Health’s proposal on the upward review of the age of retirement for the Medical and Dental Consultants and other health workers.
The consultants are, however, demanding for an immediate review of the newly revised CONMESS circular and the issuance of a new circular that would reflect the agreed percentage on both the Basic Salary and other allowances, apart from hazard allowance.
According to them, the review will ensure that the clinical lecturers benefit from the upward review.
Other demands include a call for the correction of the error of commencement of the implementation of the upward review of CONMESS from June 1, 2022 to January 2023.
The upward review of the CONMESS, they said, should take into consideration the impacts of the fuel subsidy removal and the high inflationary trend that is currently being experienced.
They also demanded for the immediate implementation and circularisation of the agreed modalities for correcting the shortfalls in remunerations of Clinical Lecturers (Honorary Consultants).