The Nigerian Medical Association has debunked reports that the ongoing doctors’ strike will end on Monday.
The Minister for Health, Professor Chukwu Onyebuchi, had on Friday expressed optimism that the strike would be immediately called off after the NMA’s Emergency Delegates Meeting slated for Monday.
The health minister said, “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 (Friday) 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 next Monday, July 7, 2014.”
But on Saturday, the NMA president, Dr. Kayode Obembe, told SUNDAY PUNCH it was mere speculation that the strike would be called off on Monday, saying the action would continue until a decision was reached to change the current stance.
He said, “The Emergency Delegates Meeting of the NMA will decide on Monday. Others are speculating.”
Speaking earlier with SUNDAY PUNCH on Friday, Dr. Obembe said if the doctors’ demand were met, the strike would be called off.
“In view of all this, I can say that if government keeps its own side of the bargain, there will be no strike in the foreseeable future. But here is the proviso: they must keep their own side of the bargain.”
The NMA president added that, contrary to belief by some Nigerians that doctors are callous, the association is a group of people who feel the pain of the ongoing strike.
Dr. Obembe said, “Medical doctors in Nigeria are also human beings. We actually feel bad that the association should degenerate to such a condition. We don’t want to take the lives of the Nigerian citizens for a ride.
“But one thing I want to make clear is that we were also pushed to the wall before we had to go to this length. Some of the things we are talking about now, we have been discussing it for years.”
SUNDAY PUNCH learnt that a Memorandum of Understanding was signed between the ministry of health and the doctors’ association after a Thursday meeting that lasted for ten hours.