NMA urges Buhari to ban public office holders from overseas treatment



Petitions him over dissolution of medical, dental council’s board
MEDICAL doctors in the country yesterday urged President Muhammadu Buhari to ban all public officeholders from seeking medical services overseas.

The doctors, under the aegis of Nigerian Medical Association (NMA), said the measure was a “moral policy” to get officeholders committed to the public health sector.

Also, the NMA has petitioned President Buhari on the controversy surrounding the general proclamation dissolving all boards and councils of Federal Government parastatals and agencies, particularly as it concerns the Medical and Dental Council of Nigeria (MDCN).

MDCN is the regulatory body for the medical and dental profession, especially in the areas of practice, education and discipline.

Chairman of the NMA, Lagos Branch, Dr. Tope Ojo, said the recent development where a former governor opted for overseas treatment in place of a state-of-the-art hospital built during his tenure was a sad reminder of years of mismanagement and lips service to the sector.

According to him, “We, therefore, want to challenge President Muhammadu Buhari to direct all political officeholders to henceforth seek medical attention in Nigeria and ban them from overseas medical treatment, as this will be taken as the first sign of seriousness of this regime to reform the health sector,” he said.

It would be recalled that the NMA national body had made similar call during the last administration, citing that Nigerians, mainly politicians spend over N250 billion seeking care services in England, United States, Germany and India every year. Most of the services, NMA said, were locally available.

Ojo, who spoke ahead of the association’s Annual General Meeting (NMA) starting today, recalled that placing a ban on medical tourism was one of the methods Chief Obafemi Awolowo adopted as Premier of Western region, to ensure that all political officeholders in Action Group (AG) and later, Unity Party of Nigeria (UPN) controlled states, sent their children to public schools and attend public health institutions.

The NMA in a press statement yesterday jointly signed by the President, Dr. Kayode Obembe, and the General Secretary, Dr. Adewunmi Alayaki, stated that:

“Should it be that the MDCN was affected by the proclamation we most humbly request, in the interest of the Nigerian public and the fate of medical practice in this country, that it be excluded or exempted just as have been done for the governing councils of universities and the Council for Legal Education.”

The NMA said the frequent, but unfortunate dissolution of the Council in the last two decades has been one of the major reasons for the unsavory developments and instability in medical education, practice and discipline in Nigeria. “It has given opportunities for persons outside the medical and dental professions to take certain critical decisions exclusively reserved for members of the professions, and which they have no competence whatsoever to take,” the doctors said.

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