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Medical doctors can no longer go on strike, the Medical and Dental Council of Nigeria (MDCN) has declared.

The highest decision-making body for doctors and dentists in the country said sanctions await any doctor that flouts the new directives agreed upon at the last stakeholders’ meeting in Abuja on June 23.

Dr. Roger Makanjuola, Chairman of the Council, told reporters in Abuja at the weekend that doctors could only go on strike in extreme cases.

He noted that certain measures must be put in place before doctors can abandon their duty posts.

Besides, he said before embarking on a strike, permission must be sought from and approval given by the central committee of the MDCN, which has not been the case in previous industrial actions.

Reading a communiqué at the end of the meeting, Makanjuola said: “It is unethical to go on strike. Practitioners must respect the provisions of the Code of Medical Ethics in Nigeria as prescribed by the MDCN. Having sworn to the Hippocratic Oath doctors should not go on strike because the oath says, first, the health of my patient shall be my first consideration and secondly that I will maintain the utmost respect for human life.

“These two components of the oath are clearly in conflict with strikes. If we do not intend to abide by the Hippocratic Oath, then we should stop swearing to it,” he said.

Though Makanjuola said doctors could express their grievances when such are genuine, he added that the Medical Code of Ethics allowed medical and dental practitioners to go on strike only in extreme circumstances.

He said: “When such industrial actions occur, the care of our patients is protected. The code stipulates that no patient can be abandoned in the midst of his or her treatment. A striking doctor must make arrangements to hand over the continued care of his patients before he leaves his post.

“Also, provision must be made for the continued provision of services for accident and emergencies and the care of those with serious illnesses and life-threatening conditions”.

On the possibility of governments and hospital management latching on the new directives to turn down demands for salary enhancement or provision of working tools or health infrastructures, Makanjuola said such could occur.

He said: “This is because, if the doctors have no tools to work with, coupled with an environment unsuitable for job, naturally he would explore all options first, then if everything fails to achieve redress, then the last option would be to down tool.

“What we are saying is that if any doctor goes on strike and it is reported to the Council, we will investigate it and if found culpable, sanctions would be imposed,” he emphasised.

He also said the Council was set to swoop on individuals that used fake imported medical equipment that diagnoses and treats all aliments.


 

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