The regulatory body of doctors will decide on the Federal Government’s decision banning doctors in public service from engaging in private practice.
Prof. Adewale Oke, the Chief Medical Director, Lagos State University Teaching Hospital, Ikeja, made this known on Sunday in Lagos.
Oke, in an interview with the News Agency of Nigeria, said the Nigerian Medical Association and the Medical and Dental Council of Nigeria would soon come out with clear positions on this issue.
NAN reports that the Federal Government had on October 11, after the Federal Executive Council meeting, banned doctors in the public service from engaging in private practice.
Oke said the matter would be addressed by the two bodies.
He said: “The ban came up suddenly with many expressing different opinions. But for political reasons, it is advisable to have discussion with NMA and MDCN on the matter.
“They are professional bodies and the regulators of medical profession.
“So, they will at the appropriate time make their decisions known to the public.
“It is desirable for doctors to concentrate on residence, but if we have to consider other factors, in term of service, there may be different complexion and thought about it.
“We should engage in wide consultations on the subject matter.”
Also, in his reaction, Dr. Ajibola Salami, the Secretary, Association of Resident Doctors, LASUTH Chapter, said that the ban was a step in a wrong direction.
Salami said: “The NMA and MDCN, as regulatory bodies, have set the guidelines for private practices for its members which are fair enough.
“The law, as stipulated by MDCN, says you cannot own a private practice, unless you are of 10 years post-graduation experience or you are a consultant or otherwise, a fellow.
“This regulation has been working without any barrier.
“We are, therefore, not in support of doctors using the government time for private practice; that is unethical.”
Salami said doctors on the payroll of government, but engaging in private practice during their official schedule, were cheating government.
He said: “But, this should not translate to outright ban.
“We are not in support of doctors on government payroll using the government time for their private practice, because they are not allowed to do so.
“Doctors on government employment are regarded as civil servants, but if government cannot stop other workers from engaging in other businesses, doctors should not be made a scapegoat.
“It is a matter of he who preaches equity must come with clean hands.
“It is not right to single doctors out; rather government should concentrate its energy on providing qualitative infrastructure.
“What we should be looking at is how we can improve the healthcare in Nigeria through symbiotic relationship between the government and players in the health sector.”
Salami said that government should concentrate more on how to improve on the existing infrastructural facilities to stem medical tourism instead of banning doctors from private practice.
He said: “I think government should direct its energy on better production and provision of affordable healthcare to stem medical tourism, rather than fighting the doctors.
“Political office holders are always going abroad for ordinary medical checkups which can be done here without any query.
“Even, some go for treatments on headache and tooth extraction, things that can be done here.
“The most painful is the amount of money involved which can be of use to us here.
If all government officials are travelling overseas, then, who are those to patronise us, if not the poor people that cannot even afford the bill; then, how do we grow?’’
Salami said that all the doctors’ agitations were legitimate; hence, “government needs not to engage in arm chair administration with the doctors.
He said: “All the doctors’ strikes are legitimate; they are agitations that are founded even, government went to court last time we went on strike and we were vindicated, they lost.
“We have the right to work and practice as a professional body as long as we are not cheating on government.
“Government should be more concern on how to improve the infrastructural facilities in our hospital for a better healthcare delivery and not going after the doctors.
“Medical tourism is a cankerworm we need to address.”