Democratic Socialist Movement

For Struggle, Solidarity and Socialism in Nigeria

By - DSM



The Nigeria Medical Association (NMA) has embarked on indefinite strike since July 1, 2014 to press home their 24 demands. Some of the demands are: Increment in duty specialist and hazard allowance, budget for residency training, reserving the position of Chief Medical Director (CMD) to only medical doctors, appointment of a Surgeon General of the Federation, reserving the title of consultants to only medical doctors and 100% Universal Health coverage for Nigerians amongst others.

The Campaign for Democratic and Workers’ Rights (CDWR) supports all agitations and struggles aimed at improving the working condition of workers and guaranteeing free and quality service to the general public. However, we strongly feel that some of the demands upon which the ongoing indefinite strike is premised are reactionary and divisive, and will not help the struggle to defend the interest of workers and the general public. Rather, it will continue to create an unhealthy rivalry amongst health workers and give the government the needed advantage to continue to undermine the interest of workers and the general public.

We hold that it is the top-down bureaucracy, anti-workers managerial policies and underfunding that should be blamed for the decay and chaos in the health sector and not which professional holds a particular title or position.

CDWR feels strongly that whoever holds the title of a consultant or occupies the CMD’s position should not be an issue except where the holder is not qualified or competent. The appointments of CMDs are usually done for political expediencies without consideration for advancing the medical profession and the health sector. In a country where the health sector is underfunded by government like other key sectors of the economy, the government-appointed CMDs usually defend the interest of the government at the expense of workers and public. Reducing the CMD’s position to a profession will not resolve the crisis in the health sector. Rather, it will only satisfy the ego of a particular profession. Hence, we appeal to NMA to withdraw all demands that breed rivalry between it and other professionals, and pursue the overall interest of the health sector.

There is no profession that is not important in any industry since no profession is an island. The management of any multi-disciplined establishment should not be the prerogative of a profession. Managerial or administrative function should not be decided on the basis of profession but by competence. Medical doctors have held the post of CMDs and of the Minister of Health, but it will be wrong to ascribe the failure of public hospitals and health sector to medical doctor as a profession.

The Joint Health Sector Union (JOHESU) is also in error to have stated that professional groups like NMA cannot engage the government in labour disputes because they are not trade unions. Professional groups like NMA have the right to engage government in the interest of their members and the general public they serve.

The CDWR is of the view that every public hospital should be run democratically by elected committee of workers representing all professions, government appointees and the communities. The committee members should be subject to recall if the elected representative are not performing or not defending the interest of workers. This arrangement would have carried all segments of the workforce along as well as ensuring transparent and effective management of the hospitals. We strongly feel that all workers/professionals in the health sector should look at the overall picture aimed at defending the interest of the sector as well as the general public.

Chinedu Bosah
CDWR Publicity Secretary
E-mail: [email protected]