The Federal Government has defended its decision to sack 16,000 resident doctors across the country, saying the move was to allow the government appraise the training programme. Minister of Health, Professor Onyebuchi Chukwu, while reacting to the sack at a press conference in Lagos, said there had been problems with the training which formed part of the reason why the doctors went on strike in the first place.
“The suspension is with all Federal Government hospitals; State Teaching Hospitals are not affected.
“The government suspended the training to allow for critical investigation and come up with better ways to improve the training,” he said. On fears that that sacking the doctors at this crucial time, when the country battles to curb the spread of the Ebola virus, the minister alleged that the doctors had not been participating in the management of Ebola and they would therefore not be missed.
“We just felt that we needed the space, to take a look and make it better so that we can get the best from the programme. It is not a permanent thing; it is just to allow us to appraise. But of course if you close a programme in a university, you cannot keep the students idle. They either go for another course meanwhile or they wait indefinitely. After that, we will restart the programme.
“We keep forgetting that no doctor has been stopped from working. Some of them may want to volunteer for this Ebola response. If any of them volunteers I would recommend them to the President. That is my job as the Minister of Health.”
Meanwhile, the Secretary, Lagos Nigeria Medical Association (NMA), Dr. Babajide Saheed, warned that the sacking of resident doctors would increase mortality and morbidity rates and worsen health indices in the country.