By virtue of their training and vocation, doctors ought always to be circumspect, demonstrate self-restraint and shun motives that are self-serving.
But over the years, resident doctors have increasingly acted in ways that desecrate their Hippocratic Oath and clearly expose them for what they are – a band of unscrupulous professionals with an insatiable sense of entitlement.
No recent action by doctors best typify this insufferable self-indulgence like the current strike embarked on by the Enugu State University Teaching Hospital’s Association of Resident Doctors. The decision to call a strike at a time the country, like the rest of the world, is ravaged by the Coronavirus pandemic vitiates whatever grouse they might have had, and, indeed, speaks volumes about their work ethic as professionals who swore to an oath to preserve lives.
It is sad the resident doctors at ESUTH Parklane would rather pander to the whims of labour unionism than be guided by the ennobling dictates of their vocation. Even sadder is the fact the resident doctors went on strike in contravention of a court injunction restraining them from doing so.
Going on strike just a day after the Enugu State government paid 25% COVID-19 allowance to them and other frontline health workers, in addition to the payment of April salary to all public servants, shows the uncharitable depths to which the resident doctors could sink to achieve their selfish goal.
In the more developed societies where the average Nigerian doctor dreams of emigrating, strikes are not called gleefully. That is because there could be consequences, especially when the industrial action results in patient-mortality. Why do doctors here have no qualms about going out on strike? Why are they hardly ever sensitive to the pains their indiscretions will inflict on patients whose wellness they took an oath to improve?
Seeking improved earnings and better working conditions are both legitimate aspirations. But they should never be obtained through blackmail, or at the expense of patients who have invariably become pawns in the doctors’ endless invidious material quest.
It is however gratifying that consultants and other medical personnel have not abdicated their responsibility at this trying times, like the resident doctors.
I do not speak for the government, but I’m aware that even while other states were still bickering over its implementation, resident doctors in Enugu State had long been on the Consolidated Medical Salary Scale (CONMESS). That is besides the numerous interventions in the health sector which has made Enugu the state with the third best doctor-to-patient ratio in the country, and put it among five states with the least child mortality, as figures from the National Bureau of Statistics indicate.
There can be no worse cruelty than the fact that these same striking doctors will still earn their full pay despite having not offered commensurate work for the corresponding period. Add the fact that they will, quite possibly, still work at a private facility during the period they had abstained from work and you will understand why public sector doctors behave like over-indulgent children.
This is totally wrong. No society should be subjected to such abuse of privilege as has been done by the resident doctors at ESUTH.
- Nwuzo, a school administrator, resides in Enugu