Monday, 4 February 2013

The re-awakening of the Nigerian Medical Association

Until recently the Nigerian Medical Association (needs a better website!) has been little more than a labour union, protecting the narrow interests of its members. It's voice was rarely heard in the public space on issues of critical national importance. Rarely was it seen as a champion for the interests of the patients who doctors swear at graduation to serve and protect for the rest of our lives. Thankfully this is changing...! The current leadership of the NMA has just concluded its first Health Summit. We asked Dr Joseph Ana, Former Commissioner of Health of Cross River State during Mr Donald Dukes's Government, to give us an account of how he saw it. 

However, we hasten to add that while this is a great start, it is only a start. There is still a long way to go for the profession to restore faith in the Nigerian population in its intent, commitment and ability to put the patient first. 

This is his account - enjoy! 

Dear All,

The first Health Summit hosted by the Nigerian Medical Association (NMA) ended with a terrific grand Banquet on Saturday 26th January, 2013 in Asaba, Events centre, Delta State, Nigeria. The Delta State Government of Governor Emmanuel Eweta Uduaghan, CON is justifiably proud to have hosted what has been appropriately called 'the reborn of the NMA'.

NMA is born again because before the event, it was the talk of beer parlours and hairdressers that its members had lost most of its priviledged status amongst the population because of the attitude and behaviour of many of its members. Most Nigerian doctors remain the epitome of professionalism,  ethics and good medical practice, but the minority 'renegades' in the profession was getting bigger and bigger at an alarming rate. Some doctors, members of the noble profession, had found themselves mired in the whole system failure environment of the country. From incessant strike actions to conflicts of interest in working full time in at least two places at the detriment of quality and safe health care they are able to provide.

From left:  Dr Chris Ngige; Governor Uduaghan, Dr Kitchner, & Dr Joseph Ana

In the short time of about 9-months, Dr Osahon Enabulele, President of NMA and his team organised a superb and historic transformation event. I don't think many observers gave it any chance of achieving anything, considering the prolonged slumber that the association pushed itself into. The great success of the event was therefore even sweeter and motivating. The theme 'Repositioning the Medical Profession and Nigeria's Health System for National Development' said it all.  At the final count there were over 1,000 participants over the seven days and resolutions galore. The lectures were delivered by a select knowledgeable faculty on an ever excited audience. Some of the resolutions include: