By Emeka Okafor
The South-South zone of the Nigerian Medical Association (NMA) has called on government at all levels to urgently tackle the increasing cases of drug abuse among Nigerians before it snowball into major crisis.
It described drug abuse as a dangerous trend that must be urgently addressed by all tiers of government and parents, saying substance abuse has contributed to the worsening insecurity in the country.
NMA raised the alarm in a communique issued at the end of the South-South Zonal Executive Council (ZEC) meeting of the body held in Asaba, Delta State, and signed by its zonal chairman and secretary, Dr. Emmanuel Nwose and Dr. Innocent Okoacha.
A copy of the communique made available to NIGER DELTA TODAY (NDT) Online lamented that the situation has led to myriads of problems including armed robbery, cultism, banditry and murder of youths across the country.
According to it, “ZEC implored parents/guardians, school authorities, health institutions and government to pay more attention to the issues of substance abuse with a view to reducing the menace of substance abuse.”
While expressing worries over the escalating insecurity across the country, the South-South NMA commended the Federal and State Governments as well as security agencies for their efforts towards tackling the insecurity in the country.
It tasked both the Federal and State Governments to increase the capacity of security agencies by providing needed tools for the fight against insecurity and urged security agencies to change their operational strategies against criminal elements.
“The rising insecurity, escalation of banditry and kidnapping in different parts of Nigeria continue to be a source of worry. ZEC condemned the insecurity in the country which has impacted negatively on the economy, increased capital flight, caused overwhelming of health resources due to greater number of injuries, and worsened the health indices in Nigeria.
“Council-in-session appreciated the efforts of Government and the security agencies in fighting crimes and criminality in the country, but urged the Federal & State Governments to increase the capacity of the security agencies, encourage citizens engagement in community sensitization, provide basic needs of the citizens, improve employment opportunities and strengthen the economic base of the nation to reduce criminality & other violence in Nigeria.
“Security agencies were also advised to change their operational strategies to conquer the criminals who constitute mayhem among law abiding citizens of our country”, the communique added.
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South-South NMA, however, lamented the deplorable state of federal roads in the region particularly the Akwa Ibom to Cross River and Benin – Sapele road sections of the road East-West Road.
While lamenting that the state of the roads was causing untold hardship to commuters and the people of Niger Delta, they appealed to the Edo, Akwa Ibom and Cross River state governments to interface with the Federal Government and Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC) for urgent rehabilitation and repair of the roads.
It expressed satisfaction at the renewed zeal in infrastructural development in the health sector by the state governors in the South-South region, particularly the recent approval for the construction of ultra-modern Cancer Centre, Cardiac Centre and medical school by the Rivers State government.
It, however, lamented failure of state governors in the zone to pay COVID-19 special hazard/inducement allowance to its members and other medical workers within the zone.
“The Zonal Executive Council observed that while doctors & other healthcare workers continue to be exposed to the deadly virus in their work places, most of the doctors & other healthcare workers who are employees of the State governments in the South-South region have not been paid the COVID-19 special hazard/inducement allowance.
“It is worthy to mention that the doctors who are employees of Federal health institutions have been paid the said allowance over a year ago.
“ZEC applauded the Executive Governor of Delta state, His Excellency, Senator (Dr.) Ifeanyi A. Okowa for being the first state governor to commence the payment of the allowance to the doctors, & urged him to extend the payment of the allowance to our colleagues in University, Polytechnic, Colleges of Education health centres.
“The Council appealed to the governors of Akwa Ibom, Bayelsa, Cross River, Edo and Rivers state to domesticate and pay the COVID-19 special hazard allowance to all doctors and other healthcare workers in their states, as it was done for our federal counterparts. This would boost the morale of our members in combating the COVID-19 pandemic and other infectious diseases”, the stated.
On quackery in the profession, the South-South zone observed “The ZEC condemned the worsening medical quackery in Nigeria, particularly in the South-South region and commended the Bayelsa State NMA for collaborating with the Bayelsa State Ministry of Health to reduce quackery in the State.
“The Council appealed to all state branches to tackle medical quackery in collaboration with their relevant agents of government.”
While commenting on the dispute between PhD and Fellowship in the medical profession, the South-South NMA noted, “Council-in –session condemned the needless argument of superiority of PhD over Fellowship which has negative impact on medical education, and contributed to brain drain due to the uncertainty of the future of the young specialist in Nigeria.
“We, therefore, restate our position that Fellowship is the highest qualification in human medicine, and urged National University Commission, National Postgraduate Medical College of Nigeria, NMA, & Medical & Dental Consultants’ Association of Nigeria (MDCAN) to resolve all issues of PhD versus Fellowship to avert unnecessary disruption of medical education in Nigeria.”