The Medical and Dental Consultants Association of Nigeria, MDCAN, Usmanu Danfodio University Teaching Hospital, UDUTH, Sokoto Chapter, has justified the action of members not to join the eight month strike embarked by the Academic Staff Union of Universities, ASUU, saying its decision to continue with academic activities during the strike was to save the nation’s healthcare from total collapse.
The Medical lecturers said that already Nigeria is facing the worst brain drain in her history and currently with a ratio of doctor to patient 1:10,000 as against the recommended 1:600, adding that any disruption of medical training will further worsen the already acute shortage of medical doctors within the West African sub-region.
Reacting to the statement by the ASUU Chapter of the Usmanu Danfodio University Sokoto, UDUS, accusing the Minister of Labour and Employment, Senator Chris Ngige of attempt to polarise and sectionalise the union through selective and bias payment of salary to selected professional medical members, MDCAN said the university administration officially confirmed that the medical lecturers performed their academic duties during the strike period which was communicated to the minister in writing.
The medical lecturers in a statement on Friday signed by Dr. B. Jibrin, and Dr. I. G. Ango, Chairman and Secretary respectively contended that the few doctors that still remain in the country are experiencing the worst burnout in recent history.
They argued that when ASUU embarked on a strike on 14th February 2022 when students were in session, medical students in UDUS were in the final stages of their postings and being prepared for their examinations.
“These postings were briefly disrupted but due to the University’s understanding of the peculiarities of medical education and practice and the belief by medical lecturers that this critical sector cannot withstand these disruptions; the CHS was encouraged to proceed with outstanding postings which culminated in the conduct of examinations for students, including the final year students,” they said.
The statement read in part: “The MDCAN UDUTH chapter. has noted once again with dismay the recent press statement issued out by the ASUU-UDUS Branch on Wednesday 2nd of November 2022 calling to question the integrity of the Honourable Minister of Labour and Employment, Dr. (Sen) Chris Ngige, the Vice Chancellor of UDUS and the Provost of the College of Health Sciences, UDUS in carrying out their lawful duties.
“It has become necessary to set the records straight for the benefit of the general public, to protect the validity of the degrees of our students and for posterity. We strenuously dissociate ourselves from the said statement and hereby wish to state the facts as they are.
“The ASUU embarked on a strike on 14th February 2022 whilst students were in session. Medical students in UDUS were in the final stages of their postings and being prepared for their examinations.
“These postings were briefly disrupted but due to the University’s understanding of the peculiarities of medical education and practice and the belief by medical lecturers that this critical sector cannot withstand these disruptions; the CHS was encouraged to proceed with outstanding postings which culminated in the conduct of examinations for students, including the final year students.
“The Honorable Minister Labour, Employment and Productivity alluded to this in a press briefing he gave on 14th of July 2022 and ASUU-UDUS Branch contradicted the Minister despite being fully aware of the conduct of these examinations.
“The MDCAN had to clarify the true position of things to the Minister that the postings and examinations of the students took place.
“The University administration went further to officially confirm that the medical lecturers indeed performed their academic duties, and this was communicated to the Minister in writing.
“The Chairman MDCAN UDUTH Sokoto has not, either privately or publicly denied the fact that the postings and examinations for the students were conducted by the medical lecturers.
“The ASUU-UDUS Branch Chairman is aware of all of the above. We are all aware that Nigeria is facing the worst brain drain in her history. Nigeria today has a ratio of doctor to patient 1:10,000 as against the recommended 1:600. The few doctors left are experiencing the worst burnout in recent history. The College of Health Sciences, UDUS is the only fully accredited institution for training medical doctors in the former Sokoto State comprising of Sokoto, Kebbi and Zamfara States.
“Any disruption of medical training will further worsen the already acute shortage of medical doctors within the sub-region.
“Realizing this emergency situation in the sub-region worsened by emerging public health threats, the medical lecturers in UDUS decided to continue the academic activities during the ASUU strike to save our health care from total collapse.
“To this end the UDUS medical lecturers agreed to conduct lectures and examinations during the period of the strike. In line with the provisions of the labour act we wrote and sought the intervention of the Minister of Labour, Employment and Productivity to ensure payment of our salaries.
“The Minister having carefully reviewed our submission and that of the University Management, obliged. This is not an act of favoritism as alleged by the ASUU UDUS branch leadership in their press statement.
“The ASUU UDUS branch, as an association, is expected to protect the interest of all her members and appreciate the differences or peculiarities of medical education.
“The ASUU can legitimately fight for its lawful rights without trampling on the rights of others. The MDCAN is often compelled to step in to protect the rights of her members who are also University staff. We hope this response has put the issues in their proper perspective.”