The teachers’ is over 90 days. Members of the National Association of Resident Doctors (NARD) are also on strike. The professionals are blaming the government for failing to meet up with the agreement reached with them.
Jonathan promised to end the strike when he received the leaders of the Nigerian Medical Association (NMA), led by its President, Dr. Osahon Enabulele.
Presidential spokesman Dr. Reuben Abati, in a statement on the meeting which reporters were prevented from covering, said the President promised to do his all to resolve all issues that caused disputes.
He said the government attached great importance to the medical and educational sectors.
He said: “I believe that we must manage both sectors in such a way that nobody engaged in them will think of going on strike again.
“We will continue to proactively evolve measures that will help us to permanently overcome the problems that lead to strikes by health and education professionals,” he added.
To facilitate rapid establishment of more centres of medical excellence in the country, President Jonathan pledged that the Federal Government would fully explore the option of creating a special intervention fund.
According to him, the recommendation of a special fund that will give low interest loans for the establishment of state-of-the-art medical facilities is a creative idea that will receive appropriate consideration from the government.
He said: “We are committed to working with professionals and the private sector to establish better medical facilities in the country and reduce the number of Nigerians who have to go abroad annually for medical reasons.”
Jonathan also assured the doctors that his administration would create the right conditions to enable doctors to stay at home and avail Nigerians of their acknowledged skills and expertise instead of migrating to other countries.
He said his administration was determined to correct the anomaly of Nigeria being so strong in human capacity in medicine, with about 25,000 Nigerian medical consultants currently practising in the United States , as confirmed to him by President Barack Obama; and yet being unable to treat many of its sick people in its own hospitals.
Jonathan said: “There is clearly a missing link somewhere and we will do everything possible to fix it. We will continue to work with professional bodies and all stakeholders to come up with more policies and actions that will help us overcome current challenges in our medical sector.
“We will work with the National Assembly to ensure the quick passage of the National Health Bill. We will take prompt action to reconstitute the Medical and Dental Council of Nigeria. We will also consider recommendations for the establishment of the Office of Surgeon-General of the Federation.”
“I believe that we must always do what is best for our country. We will review all the other issues you have raised and act accordingly. When things are done properly, issues of welfare and remuneration in the health sector will disappear,” the President said.
Dr. Enabulele assured President Jonathan of NMA’s support for his administration’s agenda.
He called for urgent reconstitution of the main regulatory body in the health sector, the Medical and Dental Council of Nigeria which was dissolved in 2011.
The NMA President also called for faster action on the passage of the National Health Bill and other issues related to the creation of a more conducive operating environment for doctors and other healthcare professionals such as remuneration, welfare and training.
The President was decorated with the emblem of the NMA by Prof. Umaru Shehu.
The NMA delegation included the Emir of Tsonga, Dr. Haliru Yahaya, the NMA Second Vice-President, Dr. Uche Ojinmah and the NMA Secretary-General, Dr. Akpufuoma Pemu.