Abuja - The Nigerian Medical Association (NMA) has given the Federal Government 21d ays within which to tackle the challenges confronting the healthcare system in the country.
The President of the association, Dr Osahon Enabulele, told a news conference in Abuja that the 21-day ultimatum was an outcome of the association's 2013 National Executive Council meeting held in Sokoto.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the theme of the meeting was "Promoting Medical Check-ups as a Key to Preventing Sudden Death" and was held from August 25 to September 1.
Enabulele said that the "on-going destruction of the fabric of professionalism and hierarchical order in Nigerian public hospitals and the health sector" gave rise to the ultimatum.
He also called on the government to correct the irregularities in the Integrated Personnel Payroll Information System (IPPIS) within the next 21 days or discontinue its use for the payment of salaries of doctors.
The association, he said, also called on President Goodluck Jonathan to order the inauguration of the governing board of the Medical and Dental Council of Nigeria (MDCN) to enable it to perform its statutory regulatory functions.
"The last council was dissolved in 2010 with no replacement since then and the implication of this is that the medical and dental practitioners tribunal is non-existent in the country."
"MDCN must be granted a protected tenure to allow for sustained progress in the regulation of medical and dental practice so as to guarantee the quality of medical care and safety of patients."
Enabulele said the NMA had also urged the government to establish the office of the Surgeon-General of Nigeria.
Enbulele said that the person would be saddled with the responsibility of independently assessing the medical fitness of public and political office holders, citing the case of the governor of Taraba.
"On the issue of the ultimatum, what we are doing is to put government on her toes to appreciate even more seriously that these are germane issues the need to contend with. That the constructive approach of the NMA needs not be taking for granted.
"The NMA at no point in time never said that it has abandoned her rights to explore her constitutional rights of embarking on any action it wants to take. We are ready to explore every legitimate means.
"Even before now, the NMA has written severally to government on the challenges of the health care system and challenges of the medical and dental council, on the challenges of the IPPS, challenges on professionalism, professional conduct within the healthcare system.
"It will interest you that even before now we have given several notices to the government but we never made them public because we expected government to respond to those notices long before now.
"Because of our responsibility to the people, we felt we needed to watch as it addresses the issues within the health system, you agree today that the health sector is completely dislocated, especially within the public hospitals.
"Within these 21 days, they should immediately inaugurate the medical and dental council and as a responsible professional organisation, we are ready to explore any further legitimate means to get this council regulating doctors and health practice in place."
Enabulele said as part of activities of the council meeting, the Speaker House of Representatives, Hon. Waziri Tambuwal, was unveiled as the Face of Healthy Living and Champion of Health Check-ups in Nigeria.
He said that 3 700 patients received free medical treatment, which he said, included 90 surgical operations at the newly built Wamako Orthopaedic Hospital, Gwadabawa Town, Sokoto.