Doctors’ Sack: Medical Consultants warn of “consequences” for specialist units

Doctors performing surgery on a patient

The Medical and Dental Consultants Association of Nigeria, MDCAN, has warned there are grave consequences ahead in the delivery of specialist health care services following the suspension of residency training programme in Nigeria by the federal government.

The declaration was made Friday, when the group met in Abuja to deliberate on the suspension of residency training for resident doctors.

The MDCAN President, Steven Oluwole, cited areas that would suffer from the suspension of residency training to include special care baby units, neurosurgery, cardiothoracic surgery, oncology and other specialties.

The Minister of Health, Onyebuchi Chukwu, early last week announced the suspension of residency training for resident doctors, worsening the lingering face-off between the Federal Government and the Nigeria Medical Association, NMA.

In a statement, the medical consultants warned that the suspension, if allowed to continue, would interrupt the on-going training of specialists, likely to take another 10 years to achieve, in the event of the eventual suspension the programme.

“It is not clear to the MDCAN how Mr. President intends to recruit trainees into the programme. It is not clear how junior and senior residents will be produced at the take-off of the programme, or perhaps we will wait for the next five to 10 years to produce the first batch of senior residents,” the union said.

“It is not clear how the special care baby units, neurosurgery, cardiothoracic surgery, oncology and other specialities will be recreated to produce tertiary level of care if this programme takes off. This suspension, which truncates more than four decades of investments in medical training, presents a future too bleak to contemplate,” it added.

The MDCAN regretted that as medical consultants and trainers of resident doctors, they were not consulted before announcing the suspension.

The residency training programme is designed to produce specialists in all fields of the practice of medicine. Although the programme commenced in Nigeria over 40 years ago, it is still being developed.

Mr. Oluwole described as aberration, the situation in which the president is the de-facto director of residency.

“MDCAN is not aware of any country in the history of residency training where the director of residency training is the Head of State,” he said. “While the Honourable Minister of Health, the Chief Medical Adviser to Mr. President, is a professor of medicine and a trainer of residents, and while doctors of repute have covertly or overtly supported and endorsed this aberrant innovation, the MDCAN strongly recommends Mr President to suspend further development and continuation of mechanism, arrangement, and purport that have been put in place to drive or to execute this project which we predict will spell doom for tertiary health care delivery in Nigeria” he said.

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