The Minister of Health, Osagie Ehanire, says there are enough medical doctors in Nigeria, but President Muhammadu Buhari’s regime is working toward replacing any doctor who resigns and leaves the country.
Mr Ehanire stated this on Tuesday in Abuja during a media conference. He also said there was no embargo on the employment of doctors and other health personnel in the country.
“There is no embargo on employing doctors; where there is a need, we do. But, because there is a civil service regulation, there are processes before doctors are employed. We have heard complaints of doctors who are now leaving the system,” the minister explained. “But there are actually enough doctors in the system because we are producing up to 2,000 or 3,000 doctors every year in the country, and the number leaving is less than 1,000. It is just that the employment process needs to be smoothened.”
The minister further explained that the ministry was working with the office of the head of the civil service to use the ‘one-for-one’ employment strategy so that if one doctor or nurse resigns to go abroad, another one is employed.
“So, if we have one replacement, then you are not likely to have a shortage. But that has been worked out because the head of service had the experience that in the past, when one person goes, they use the opportunity to take three, and those others may not even be people who are required,” Mr Ehanire stressed. “We want to use this policy so that we can reduce shortages and have our personnel back in our hospitals.”
Deborah Bitrus-Oghoghorie of the Department of Hospital Services said the issue of the two-week ultimatum given by the National Association of Resident Doctors (NARD) for the regime to meet the demands of the association or risk an industrial action was being considered.
According to her, they are mainly financial issues the ministry could not solve alone.
“The issue we have with the resident doctors are mainly financial issues, and because of that, we at the ministry of health cannot handle it alone. So, what we are doing now is to facilitate resolving the issue with the Ministry of Finance, Budget and National Planning and the National Salaries, Incomes and Wages Commission (NSIWC),” Ms Bitrus-Oghoghorie stated.
She added, “We want to assure you that the ministry of health, especially the department of hospital services, is working very hard to ensure that industrial action is averted.”
On Saturday, it was reported that the resident doctors had given Mr Buhari’s regime another two weeks’ notice to implement the payment of the new hazard allowance and arrears stipulated as of December 22, 2021.
The two weeks which took effect on Monday will end on September 4. The said hazard allowance is contained in the circular issued by NSIWC dated December 22, 2021, with reference number SWC/S/04/S.218/11/406.
Some of the association’s demands include the urgent implementation and commencement of payment of the 2022 Medical Residency Training Funds (MRTF) in full to its members using the old template and that the shortfalls using the newly reviewed template be computed and factored into the 2023 budget and paid in arrears.