In the wake of intensifying negotiations, the Medical and Dental Consultants Association of Nigeria (MDCAN) has announced plans to convene its National Executive Council (NEC) meeting next month. The primary objective of this pivotal gathering will be to determine whether the association will initiate a nationwide strike in response to the unresolved issues concerning its demands.
Dr. Victor Makanjuola, the President of MDCAN, revealed this significant development during a recent telephone interview with our correspondent. Notably, the association had issued a communiqué on August 7, 2023, outlining a 21-day ultimatum directed at the Federal Government to address their concerns. Failure to comply would lead to industrial unrest. This ultimatum, set to expire on August 28, 2023 (Monday), underscores the association’s urgency to see its demands met.
However, Dr. Makanjuola clarified that the association has extended the government’s deadline until August 31, 2023. This adjustment reflects the timing of the government’s reception of the ultimatum letter on August 11, 2023. As the association prepares for its Biennial Delegate Meeting scheduled from September 4 to 10th, the decision to proceed with a strike will hinge on the outcome of this meeting. Thus, the verdict regarding a potential strike will likely emerge during the NEC meeting around August 31.
Dr. Makanjuola emphasized, “We are giving the government until August 31. So, we have to hold our NEC meeting to decide if there will be a strike or not. Assuming there is no NEC meeting coming up, we would have called an emergency NEC meeting to make our decision.”
The central demands of the consultants include an immediate revision of the recently amended Consolidated Medical Salary Structure (CONMESS) circular. The association seeks a new circular that accurately reflects the agreed-upon percentages for both basic salary and additional allowances, excluding hazard allowance. This demand is aimed at ensuring equitable benefits, particularly for clinical lecturers (Honorary Consultants).
Furthermore, the consultants are calling for the rectification of errors related to the commencement of the upward review of CONMESS. They urge the correction of the implementation date from June 1, 2023, to January 1, 2023.
The consultants’ concerns extend to encompass the impact of fuel subsidy removal and escalating inflation. They advocate for the incorporation of these factors in the CONMESS review. Additionally, they appeal for the universal application of CONMESS to all medical and dental doctors, especially those in public universities.
The association also underscores the critical issue of brain drain in the healthcare sector, citing its contribution to member burnout and the insufficient healthcare workforce. MDCAN demands the immediate implementation of an age retirement review, raising the retirement age to 70 for consultants and 65 for other health workers, as a strategic response to counter the ongoing brain drain.
Dr. Makanjuola enumerates the age retirement review, the swift implementation of corrective measures for remuneration shortfalls among Clinical Lecturers, and ensuring doctors’ safety as prerequisites for avoiding a potential strike. As the consultations continue, stakeholders keenly await the outcomes of the forthcoming NEC meeting, where critical decisions will be deliberated upon.