The Nigerian Medical Association has said the dissolution of the board of the Medical and Dental Council of Nigeria, MDCN, two months into the life of the Muhammadu Buhari administration without reconstituting a new one has worsened incidents of quack doctors in Nigeria.
The NMA, therefore, called on President Muhammadu Buhari to constitute the board of the MDCN to enhance professionalism in the healthcare sector.
The President of NMA, Mike Ogirima, made the appeal in an interview with the News Agency of Nigeria, NAN, on Monday in Abuja.
Mr. Ogirima attributed the increasing number of quacks in the medical profession to the dissolution of the MDCN.
He said the dissolution of the regulatory body by the federal government along with other governing boards of federal parastatals, agencies and institutions on July 15, 2015, had affected the smooth operations of the council.
The Buhari administration was inaugurated on May 29, 2015.
The NMA president noted that the absence of a regulatory body for the council had increased the rate of quackery in the profession.
He listed some of the functions of the body to include monitoring, discipline and adjudication of reported cases of alleged quackery and non-renewal of licence by doctors, among others.
He lamented that the council had become handicapped and ineffectual with the dissolution of the regulatory body, giving rise to incidences of quackery and professional misconducts among doctors.
Mr. Ogirima noted that in the council’s efforts at arresting the trend, it constituted a monitoring committee comprised of the NMA and Director of Medical Service at the federal and state levels.
However, he said that the committee had not been as effective as expected as it lacked the bite due to the absence of the regulatory body.
Mr. Ogirima described quacks as unlicensed persons who either did not undergo medical training in medical school or who failed to complete the programme within the stipulated time or period.
The don said that the influx of these quacks had further increased the nation’s disease burden, mortality rate as well as maimed a lot of innocent people.
“Based on complaints we receive as an association, I think quackery is on the increase.
“Because of economic recession, patients cannot afford the high cost of medical bills from orthodox hospitals; they revert to alternative care, spiritual homes and places where they cannot get quality health care.
“And at the end of the day they are maimed as a result of wrong approaches or wrong treatment given to them.
“These are some of our findings during the course of investigating complaints regarding fake doctors.
“Before a person is labelled a medical doctor, that person must be licensed to practice and having underdone adequate training in that field,” he said.
Mr. Ogirima attributed failure by some doctors to renew their licences on logistics challenge.
“Some doctors are reluctant to renew their licence because MDCN is not forthcoming.
“For 20 months now that council has not been functioning just because of one careless circular from a former Permanent Secretary in the Federal Ministry of Health,’’ said the NMA president.
He, however, disclosed that there was an online renewal method currently being put in place to address that.
He regretted that the council’s regulatory body remained non-functional when “other non-medical and health regulatory councils like COREN and NUC have been functioning.
“The council is not a board but a regulatory body, so its dissolution is the main reason why we are having piled up of cases to deal with because there is no tribunal to deal with such issues.
“NMA is insisting on making the regulatory bodies in the health sector perpetually functional even when there is change in government,’’ Mr. Ogirima said.