Pathologists kick as JOHESU plans strike over medical amendment bill

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Daud Olatunji, Abeokuta

The College of Nigerian Pathologists, on Tuesday, kicked against the planned strike action by Joint Health Sector Union and its call to the National Assembly to step down the Medical and Dental Practitioners’ Repeal and Re-enactment Bill 2020.

The CNP described the planned strike action and the call by JOHESU as one of the bullying tactics of the union in arm-twisting and blackmailing the Federal Government.

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JOHESU had called on the National Assembly to throw out the bill, alleging that the main objective of the bill was to expand the discriminatory and oppressive tendencies of the Medical and Dental Council of Nigeria over other health workers in the country.

But, while addressing newsmen at a press briefing held in Abeokuta, the President, College of Nigerian Pathologists, Prof. Philip Olatunji said the recent threat of industrial action by JOHESU was an attempt to blackmail the Senate Committee on Health.

JOHESU had last week threatened an industrial action over public hearing on the Medical and Dental Practitioners’ Repeal and Re-enactment Bill, 2020.

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Olatunji said the bill does not seek to victimise members of JOHESU, but rather to regulate the practice of medical doctors and specialists.

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Olatunji while dispelling JOHESU’s claim, explained that the bill will not cause industrial disharmony in the health sector.

He said, “All that the new Medical and Dental Repeal and Re-enactment Bill under consideration seeks to do is to ensure that words ‘pathology and ‘laboratory’ are properly defined in order to clear the existing conflict and avoid any ambiguity”.

The CNP president called on the National Assembly to ignore JOHESU’s call and pass the bill which had already scaled second reading, to end conflicts in the health sector which according to him had rendered Nigerian laboratories crises-ridden for the past 17 years.

He lamented that medical laboratory scientists and other members of JOHESU had been taking advantage of the outdated Medical and Dental Practitioners’ Act 1988 to usurp the position and activities of medical and practitioners “thus giving rise to the avalanche of quackery and avoidable deaths Nigerians have had to contend with over the years.”

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Olatunji insisted that it was wrong and misinforming for medical laboratory scientists to claim that they are the only workers authorised to work in laboratories.

He said, “The Medical and Practitioners’ Act is 33 years old and long overdue for repeal and re-enactment as is being carried out. The repeal and re-enactment bill is meant to regulate medical doctors and specialists in the field of medicine.

“The complaints of JOHESU, an amalgam of different professionals in different departments is nothing but a gang-up against medical doctors and the complaint they have raised are based on crass ignorance, misinformation and outright mischief.

“We urge the National Assembly to proceed with the passage of the Bill to re-enact an old and outdated Act to bring it in line with the current international best practices and reduce the source of conflicts that have engendered needless litigations and rendered our laboratories crises-ridden over the last 17 years.

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“Pathology is not, and cannot be the same as medical laboratory science. Historically, medical laboratory technology (now science) was middle-level manpower created by the pathologists to assist them in their laboratories.

“All over the world, pathologists are trained in clinical laboratories and ply their trade inside the laboratories. What the medical laboratory scientists seek to achieve in Nigeria is strange to the entire world.

“Over the years, these motley group called JOHESU, exploiting the fact that the law regulating the practice of medicine has remained unamended for 33 years, have introduced into their various regulatory council laws clauses usurping the position and activities of medical and dental practitioners, thus giving rise to the avalanche of quackery and avoidable deaths Nigerians have had to contend with over the years.”

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