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Ministry of Labour and Employment has advised the Nigerian Medical Association (NMA) to stop dissipating energy, interpreting the comments made by its minister Sen. Chris Ngige in a recent television interview and face the challenge of helping to stem the series of industrial action by the National Association of Resident Doctors (NARD)

The minister had in an answer at a recent television interview made reference to the service package for residency training of doctors in the United States and United Kingdom in relation to Nigeria

A statement by the ministry’s media aide, Charles Akpan in Abuja said: “Nothing can be further from the truth than the interpretations and imputations given to his comment in the press especially the recent press statement by the NMA. To be accurate, in a question and answer session in a television interview programme regarding the ongoing strike by the National Association Resident Doctors (NARD) the interviewer sought to know Federal Government’s efforts towards promoting medical personnel training , better pay, medical services in order to stop brain drain of doctors to greener pastures.

“The minister answered that nobody (no government) pays anything to resident doctors rather resident doctors pay something to train themselves. He also said Nigerian government pays salaries and some aspect of the training of resident doctors such as books, exam fees among others.

“What the minister meant was that governments all over the world do not involve themselves directly in paying for residency training and hence do not pay anything. A figurative use of the word “nobody” means no government as per the interviewer’s question which referenced the role of government .

“This should, therefore, not be mischievously misapplied to mean that resident doctors in other climes are not paid remunerations by their employers. Every employee gets remuneration in labour. They are paid by their employers who are the hospitals with whom they have entered into contract for various terms but those employers do not pay for things like examination fees, books , accommodation etc. They stop at salaries and allowance .

According to the minister, the NMA assertion that all residents pay all these other expenditures for themselves in Nigeria is neither here or there.

“I will advise NMA to dig further before such public statements are made because from the vintage position as former deputy director, Hospital Services and Training Department of the Federal Ministry of Health, overseeing medical training, including residency in the 90s, being a member of the seventh Senate and a prominent member of the Senate Health Committee 2011-2015 and lately, a member of the Federal Executive Council that recently passed and implemented the Residency Training Fund (RTF) for resident doctors welfare;

“The minister that arbitrated on the last strike on August -September 2020, I wish to advise the NMA to let the sleeping dog lie but go and dig further into what residents get from their state government sponsors and even from the Federal Government, for those of them on Federal Government training scheme.

“For the records, two of the major issues raised by NARD members for starting the strike are the new central placement of newly qualified medical graduates in federal tertiary health institutions as House officers by the Medical and Dental Council Of Nigeria (MDCN) through a federalised system and the introduction of new hazard allowance for all categories of health workers.

“Recall that a special COVID-19 allowance of N32 billion was paid in 2020 to all health workers in all Federal Government tertiary institutions, including all the doctors in federal government’s secondary institutions .

“The central placement of House officers was approved by the FEC for all would be intern in federal tertiary institutions to enable these graduates not roam the streets for up to 12 months, waiting for spaces for horsemanship.”

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