OMICRON: NMA calls for equal travel advisory by Nigeria

The Nigerian Medical Association NMA, has advised the Nigerian government to adopt equal travel advisory to protect its citizens.

The President of the association, Prof.

Innocent Ujah gave the advice at a press briefing in Abuja.

He also used the briefing to present the communique of the December 2021 National Executive Council meeting of the NMA which was held in Sokoto state.

He said that considering the effects of Omicron across the world, Nigeria needs to join the rest of the world to be vigilant and proactive in curbing the spread of Omicron.

“While appreciating the efforts of governments and healthcare workers for the spirited fight against COVID-19 pandemic, the Council urged the government at all levels to (a) institute more rigorous and continuous surveillance systems and strict reciprocal international health travel measures; (b) improve international co-operation and data sharing and (c) effective laboratory-based surveillance systems including the rebuilding of public health infrastructure to prevent and control vector-borne and zoonotic diseases; (d) institute multidisciplinary collaboration using one health approach for prompt diagnosis and treatment; (e) conduct primary as well as translational research in the management of infectious diseases, (f) conduct regular training and restraining of health personnel and strengthen evidence-based and timely informed decision in order to prevent, detect, treat, contain, and control infectious diseases” Prof.

Ujah said.

He also said that “the Council noted with deep concern the grueling jeopardy of disease outbreaks compounded by the trilogy of emerging, re-emerging and rapidly spreading epidemics more now than ever before in human history exemplified by the discovery of the new variant of SARS-CoV2 “the omicron variant” and the attendant consequential discriminatory travel restrictions and other sanctions against some countries of Africa.

It further noted the several threats to global health as revealed by the near certainty of the prediction of the next pandemic by reputable global health security authorities”.


Ujah also noted that NEC also decried the non-prioritization of health matters in terms of fund allocation and the failure of innovation and creativity in identifying alternative financing options for healthcare in Nigeria.

“It called on the government to show more commitment towards attaining their self-assigned obligation through a stepwise increase in the appropriation for Healthcare up to at least the 15% mark of the 2001 Abuja declaration.

It also called on effective utilization of funds earmarked for COVID-19 response, as well as the establishment of a HEALTH BANK OF NIGERIA by the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) as a well-intentioned dedicated intervention to provide credit facilities to particularly the private health sector which is suffocating under the excruciating high interest rates by commercial Banks.

Expansion of access to the nation’s health system for all Nigerians through increased funding for the National Health Insurance Scheme (NHIS) must be expedited for quality health improvement.

The National Executive Council of NMA fervently appealed to Mr.

President to sign without further delay the recently amended NHIS (Repeal and Re-enactment) Bill to facilitate Universal Health Coverage (UHC) in Nigeria towards achieving the health-related Sustainable development Goals (SDGs)”.

He said.

He said that NEC was sad that two decades on, Nigeria has been unable to achieve the “Abuja Declaration of 2001” of allocating at least 15% of its national budget to health, with the 2022 budgetary allocation to health, still remaining at 4.

3% of the Appropriation.

Non payment of salaries
The NMA President also noted that NEC expressed its disappointment with the failure of Abia, Ondo and Ekiti State governments to pay salaries in full and other allowances of doctors and other health workers for up to 23 months in Abia state and down to four (4) months in Ekiti state.

“The Council therefore appealed to Abia, Ondo and Ekiti State Governments to pay these accrued salaries and allowances to doctors and other health workers without further delay while empowering the NMA leadership in the affected states to use every diplomatic and legal means to ensure the payment of the owed emoluments.

The Imo State Government was appreciated for the progress made so far in clearing part of the unpaid salaries”.


Ujah stressed that the NEC noted the prolonged, persistent, manipulative and subtle attempt by National Universities Commission (NUC) to impose the PhD as a prerequisite for academic career progression on Clinical Lecturers.

“It further expressed great dissatisfaction with the actions of NUC for failing to take into consideration the peculiarities of medical education while pursuing a farcical uniformity among all lecturers in the University.

NEC resolved unequivocally that PhD degree has no bearing on improving knowledge or skills for medical instructions that will guarantee patients safety and clinical effectiveness and scholarship.

Cognizant that the medical fellowship has produced specialists and professors and other medical teachers who are highly sought-after internationally, including the Americas, Middle East, Australia and Europe.

It was resolved that the only qualification for the Clinical Lecturers for appointments, career progression and promotions in all Universities in Nigeria is Fellowship of Graduate Medical Colleges and urged the NUC to work closely with the Medical and Dental Council of Nigeria (MDCN) to put this lingering issue behind us” he added.

The theme of the meeting was “Emerging and Re-emerging Infections: The continuous evolution of the trio of Lassa, Ebola and COVID -19 diseases”.

The NEC meeting which was held in Sokoto was from the 30th of November 2021 to the 4th day of December 2021.

Emmanuel Ukoh
OMICRON: NMA calls for equal travel advisory by Nigeria

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