The Minister of Health, Professor Onyebuchi Chukwu, has given the assurance that doctors will return to work on Monday, following the signing of Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with the Nigerian Medical Association on Thursday.
This is even as he affirmed that the association went ahead with its nationwide strike on July 1, despite an earlier MoU signed on June 25, after a meeting with an inter-ministerial committee chaired by the Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Senator Anyim Pius Anyim.
“To be sure, almost all the issues in contention were either issues that had been satisfactorily resolved or issues that could be treated merely through administrative mechanism. The signed MoU was to have apprehended the nationwide strike that was threatened by the association. However, the Nigerian Medical Association jettisoned the MoU and proceeded on strike on July 1, 2014”, he explained.
The health minister, who spoke at a press briefing held at the ministry yesterday, expressed optimism that despite the NMA jettisoning the earlier agreement, which would have prevented the ongoing strike in the first place, the newly signed MoU will be upheld by the association and that doctors will resume work by Monday.
He said: “Despite reneging on the MoU, the government immediately invited the invited the NMA to series of meetings on July 1, yet this could not dissuade the NMA from the strike they had embarked on. Another meeting that was planned for July 2, was aborted when the NMA officials failed to show up.
“However, the NMA honoured another meeting schedule for July 3, under the auspices of the Secretary to the Government of the Federation. In attendance were the Governor of Delta State, the Chairman of the Senate Committee on Health, the Honourable Minister of Health, the Honourable Minister of Labour and Productivity, the Honourable Minister of State for Health, the Senior Special Assistant to the President on Public Affairs, the Chairman of the National Salaries, Income and Wages Commission, the Permanent Secretary of the Federal Ministry of Health and other relevant senior government officials.
“At the end of the meeting, which lasted for ten hours, another MoU was signed. As I speak to you, the government has met its own side of the MoU and it is expected that the members of the NMA would from today begin to respond and attend to all emergency cases in public hospitals in the spirit of this understanding.
“It is also expected that the NMA will call off the strike after its Emergency Delegates Meeting scheduled for Monday”, he said.
The minister’s position has not been corroborated by the National President of the NMA, Dr. Kayode Obembe, as calls to his phone were left answered neither has he returned the call as at the time of publishing this report.