The Nigerian Medical Association (NMA) is to officially write the presidency with complaints about “security risks doctors are facing nationwide while discharging their duties”.
National executives of the association met in Makurdi and reached a resolution to raise government awareness about growing spate of insecurity and kidnappings, targeting doctors in particular.
NMA President, Dr Francis Faduyile said the association is to publish a record of kidnappings targeting doctors in the last two years nationwide.
In the period, four doctors have been kidnapped in Benue, four more in Cross River, six in Ondo, and two each in Imo and Taraba State, he said, noting they were targeted.
“We want to officially write to the president of the Federal Republic of Nigeria to showcase how kidnappers see doctors, and this will hamper our work, and make doctors apprehensive of going to work,” Faduyile said.
“Many of them do not look random. They look as if they actually went for them. Unfortunately, ransom is paid.”
A N12.3 million ransom was paid to secure the release of the two doctors kidnapped in March in Taraba, but they are yet to be released.
“What are our security men doing? They are trying their best but can we say it is good enough,” said NMA chairman in the FCT, Dr. Philips Ekpe, who chairs the NMA in the FCT.
“Right now, it is very difficult to travel by road because of fear of insecurity. [President Muhammadu] Buhari should not keep quiet. There should be an investigation panel to find out why there should be argument among security apparatus over the kidnapping of Nigerian citizens. It is his duty to make sure we have security in this country.”
The association said insecurity has hit health care delivery hard, putting health workers at risk when they have to work at night. On-call healthworkers are required to have accommodation within hospitals, but most health centres lack accommodation for personnel, prompting healthworkers to live out of site. In night-time emergencies, healthworkers are called to site or ambulances sent to pick them up. But doctors speaking to Daily Trust on Saturday cite two separate night-time attacks on ambulances conveying emergency-duty officials in the FCT.
“So it is then about choosing between the safety of the driver and health worker and the patient whose life you are trying to save,” according to a doctor working at one of the FCT’s district hospitals.
In the latest incident, armed men who abducted the Chief Medical Director of Irrua Specialist Teaching Hospital, Dr Sylvanus Okogbeni, killed two security officers attached to him. He was later freed.
“We have some disturbing us—Sule Audu and Sunday Odunuyi. Ransom has been paid and they have not been released—and it has been six months. These are things that doctors are not happy about. We have to be able to control ourselves not to take a very drastic action against the government.”
Other resolutions reached by the executives call on the public, judiciary, military and paramilitary to insist on a doctor’s stamp on medical reports and certificates.
The stamp is customized with biometric data that identifies individual doctors, and NMA says it is guaranteed to check quacks.
Another resolution called on Abia state government to pay salaries of doctors and other health workers denied pay for months. It said failure to pay was “highly provocative” and against the tenets of civil service rules and natural justice.
One resolution called on government to increase budgetary allocation to health, seek alternative platforms of financing healthcare and commit to proper use of the available funds.