Sack of resident doctors threat to specialist health care - Consultants

Dr. Steven Oluwole

Dr. Steven Oluwole, President MDCAN

By Ayorinde Oluokun/Abuja

Dr. Steven Oluwole
Dr. Steven Oluwole

The Medical and Dental Consultants Association of Nigeria (MDCAN) has said the recent suspension of residency programmes and sack of resident doctors by federal government constituted threat to specialist health care in the country.

The Association which met to discuss the suspension of Residency Training for Resident Doctors in Abuja on Thursday therefore warned that grave consequences in the delivery of specialist health care services would follow the action of the federal government.

In a statement signed by Dr. Steven Oluwole, President of the Association, at the end of the meeting, MDCAN stated that special care baby units, neurosurgery, cardiothoracic surgery, oncology and other specialities would be greatly affected by the suspension.

Professor Onebuchi Chukwu, the Minister of Health, had announced the suspension of Residency Training Programme for Resident Doctors, worsening the lingering face off between the Federal Government and the Nigeria Medical Association.

But MDCAN warned that the if the suspension is allowed to continue, it will interrupt the ongoing training and production of specialists, likely to take another 10 years to achieve, in the event of the eventual suspension of the programme.

“It is not clear to the MDCAN how Mr President intends to recruit trainees into the programme; It is not clear how junior and senior residents will be produced during the take off of the programme, or perhaps we will wait for the next five to ten years to produce the first batch of senior residents; It is not clear how the special care baby units, neurosurgery, cardiothoracic surgery, oncology and other specialities will be recreated to produce tertiary level care if this programme takes off.

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Onyebuchi Chukwu, Minister of Health
Onyebuchi Chukwu, Minister of Health

“This suspension, which truncates more than four decades of investments in medical training, presents a future too bleak to contemplate,” Oluwole noted.

He also stated that medical consultants who are trainers of Resident Doctors were not consulted before announcing the suspension.

“Members of the MDCAN, who are the trainers of the resident doctors, were not consulted before taking a decision of this monumental magnitude.

“The residency training programme is designed to produce specialists in all fields of the practice of medicine. Although the programme commenced in Nigeria over 40 years ago, it is still being developed, and remodelled.”

MDCAN also condemned the direct involvement of the President in the suspension of the residency programme.

“The MDCAN is not aware of any country in the history of residency training where the Director of Residency Training is the Head of State.

“While the Honourable Minister of Health, the Chief Medical Adviser to Mr. President, is a Professor of Medicine and a trainer of residents, and while doctors of repute have covertly or overtly supported and endorsed this aberant innovation, the MDCAN strongly recommends Mr. President to suspend further development and continuation of mechanism, arrangement, and purport that have been put in place to drive or to execute this project which we predict will spell doom for tertiary health care delivery in Nigeria,” Oluwole added.