By:g9ija,lagos

AHEAD of the 2023 general elections, the Nigerian Medical Association, NMA, has said it would only support a presidential candidate whose blueprint in the health sector addresses the nation’s current health challenges and is in line with the United Nations’ recommended standards.

President of NMA, Dr Uche Ojinmah, who said this at a briefing in Abuja, Tuesday, to market the 2022 Physician’s Week, said the organisation was patiently waiting for the presidential candidates to roll out their plans in the health sector before it chooses its preferred choice among the contestants.

Ojinmah, who declared that the era of blind loyalty was over, warned state governments against seizing or slashing the salaries of medical personnel and rather paying it piecemeal at the governments’ convenience without interest.

He accused the government of foot-dragging in the implementation of the Consolidated Medical Salary Structure , CONMESS of the nation’s medical doctors, warning that the civility of NMA members should not be taken for granted

He regretted that Nigerian doctors have been taken from the lofty heights of nobility to nothingness by the neglect and possible disdain for the health sector by successive governments in the country.

He said:”The era of blind loyalty is over. Let us all patiently wait to hear the plans of the presidential candidates for Nigeria, especially in the Health sector before pitching our political support tent.

“Let me inform you all that the Nigerian doctor is poorly paid, over worked, lack necessary work tools and has become a target for kidnap. We as Nigerian doctors have been taken from the lofty heights of nobility to nothingness by the neglect and possible disdain for the health sector by successive governments.

“The penchant of state governments for seizing or slashing our salaries and paying it piecemeal at their convenience without interest has become a subject of folklore and hence cannot be allowed to continue.

“On the need to review CONMESS, let me inform you that the ball is now in the court of the Government and they are foot-dragging.

“Let no one take our civility for weakness as we shall do all within limits of legality to protect the interest of the Nigerian doctor while the Government continues in their “search” for obvious reasons behind medical brain drain. It is a heartbreaking situation for Nigerian doctors because a review of CONMESS has been due since 2014 based on the 2009 Collective Bargaining Agreement we signed with the Government which stipulated a review after five years.

“We hereby call on all well-meaning citizens and statesmen to intervene now and not blame doctors later.”

Ojinmah enjoined the federal government to as a matter of national importance, declare emergency action in the nation’s health sector for the sake of its citizens.

“We call on our Governments to quickly declare emergency action in Nigeria’s health sector for the sake of her citizens.

“Despite the national drawbacks, the Nigerian doctor has a lot to celebrate this week just for being alive. Let me also inform you all that we had a very successful outing in Berlin at the General Assembly of the World Medical Association,WMA.

He explained that the NMA shelved this year’s Physicians’ Week National opening ceremony and razzmatazz as a result of the massive flood affecting Bayelsa and some other states of Nigeria with attendant loss of human lives and properties which he noted,had dampened the mood of the nation.

“We have from our meagre resources sent some relief materials to Bayelsa state which was worse hit; we also encouraged our branches in affected states to roll out medical outreach programs and sent solidarity messages to the state Governors and some dignitaries in the affected states.

” I am hereby using this auspicious occasion to send a message of love and sympathy from NMA to all fellow citizens affected by the flood disaster ravaging the nation. We pray for a quick resolution and recovery. We call on our Governments at different levels to work together in helping victims recover quickly. We call on Federal Government to actively initiate measures to avert another flooding. This is one flood too many in our recent history as a nation; we say no more floods while we watch.

“Our beloved country is passing through difficult times but I know that if we persevere and continue being the best that we can be, there is light at the end of the tunnel. Nigeria is at a turning point and we all are hereby charged to stand as compatriots to obey the call of Nigeria.

” We must never let the labours of our heroes past be in vain. All citizens must respond to the call of Nigeria for good leadership and should never for pecuniary benefits sell or support candidates that cannot move our nation forward. May God grant us the courage to be who we ought to be by standing for equity and progress. May our loyalty be to only Nigeria and may our loyalty be not tested by any past or present commitment, he further said.