The federal government has finally inaugurated the governing council of the Medical and Dental Council of Nigeria, over a month after the ultimatum given by the professional association expired.
The Nigerian Medical Association had given the government until end of September to appoint the board, failure which it vowed to approach the court to force the government to do so.
The inauguration of the council on Friday came over three and half years after the previous one was dissolved by President Muhammadu Buhari along with the boards of other federal agencies on July 15, 2015.
Medical doctors repeatedly complained not having a board was affecting the operations of the MDCN, the council regulating medical practice and training in Nigeria.
According to a press release signed by the director, Media and Public Relations, Federal ministry of Health, Boade Akinola, on Friday, the governing council was inaugurated by the Minister of Health, Isaac Adewole, in Abuja.
The statement said the minister at the ceremony charged the chairman and members to work towards achieving the responsibilities bestowed on the council.
“As you are aware, governing councils are creations of statutes, and their responsibilities are to give policy direction, effective oversight and strategic guidance to the management of the institutions. I therefore wish to emphasis that government expects no less from this council,” Mr Adewole said.
“Your council is critical to the achievement of developmental goals of government being implementing entities of the health sector. You are all enjoined to commit to achieving this mandate and to live above board,” he said.
The minister urged the council to study and strictly adhere to the laid down laws that define its roles and responsibilities.
He said the council should determine the standard of knowledge and skill to be attained by persons seeking to become members of the medical and dental profession and review those standards from time to time as circumstance may permit.
The minister explained that the council “shall review and prepare from time to time a statement as to the code of conduct which the council considers desirable for the practice of the professions in Nigeria”, amongst others.
Mr Adeweole said the mission of the ministry was to ensure that the Nigerians have “universal access to comprehensive, appropriate, affordable, efficient, equitable and quality essential health care through a strengthened health system.
“I must inform you that our job is to a take our nation to a brighter future in spite of challenges that confront us,” Mr Adewole said.
In his remarks, the permanent secretary of the ministry, Abdulaziz Abdullahi, called on members of the new council to see their appointment as a call to national service, “which should be given full sense of responsibility.”
He also urged them to do everything possible to reduce professional rivalry in the health sector.
Responding on behalf of other members, the chairman of the Council, Abba Hassan, who holds the traditional title of Wazirin Mubi in Adamawa State, pledged to give their best in improving the Nigerian health system.
“Our principal task is to ensure high quality medical and dental training, curtail unethical medical and dental practice and stamp out quackery,” Mr Hassan said.
He called on patients affected by unethical practice to always come forward and complain to the council.
The NMA had decried the absence of a governing council to govern the activities of the MDCN, the statutory body regulating the activities of medical doctors and dentists in the country.
President of the association, Francis Faduyile, said the failure to appoint a regulatory body for the council has increased quackery in the medical profession.
He said the MDCN had become handicapped and ineffectual without a governing council, giving rise to incidences of quackery and professional misconducts among doctors.
The governing council monitors, disciplines and adjudicates on cases of alleged quackery and non-renewal of licence by doctors, among others.
The absence of the council also stalled tribunal process of cases of unethical conducts by doctors reported to MDCN as it requires a governing council to sit on the cases.