The Nigerian Medical Association, NMA, on Friday ordered all doctors to join other Nigerians in the nationwide strike scheduled to begin on January 9, 2012 in protest against the removal of the subsidy on fuel by the Federal Government.
Dr. Omede Idris, the President of the NMA, gave the directive at a news briefing in Abuja. He said the association had consulted widely with all its state branches and senior members of the profession before taking the decision.
Meanwhile, the NMA asked its members nationwide to be ready to respond to the health needs of protesters by putting on white coats and arm themselves with first aid kits and ambulances on the day of the strike.
According to him, “Our protesting members should be appropriately dressed in white coats with first aid materials and ambulances to ensure we attend to the health needs of protesters. Sick bays should be set up at demonstration sites or location to care of the needy.
“In view of the fact that we are not unmindful of the likely casualties, medical and surgical emergencies that are bound to occur, emergency sections of the hospitals should remain open to render emergency services.
“Management of the different hospitals should work out appropriate schedules. This is born out of the fact that people we are protecting and making a case for, should not suffer unduly from ill-health occasioned by the strike and bad governance. We implore ambulance owners to assist with ambulances during the protest.”
He also added that the NMA would completely shut down all the health facilities in the country if the Federal Government failed to respond positively to the demand of Nigerians to rescind his decision to remove the subsidy.
The NMA said that the government, rather than removing the fuel subsidy now, should first curb its waste, make the refineries functional and ensure accountability with verifiable audit in petroleum sector and tackle corruption in the downstream sector of oil and gas operations.
The doctors also advised the government to stop frivolous foreign trips and use the savings to begin to address the palliatives in the subsidy reinvestment empowerment programme.
The NMA appealed to the Federal Government to reverse its action and prevent avoidable stress and strain on Nigerians.