The Lagos State branch of the Nigerian Medical Association, NMA has directed doctors in state to proceed on an indefinite sit-at-home order to protest what they described as ‘conflicting directives by the government and incessant police harassment’ on medical doctors and other health workers in the state.
In a press statement made available to Vanguard, and jointly signed by the State Chairman of the NMA, Dr Saliu Oseni and the Secretary, Dr Ramon Moronkola, the sit-at-home order is expected to begin today, (Wednesday), 20th May 2020 from 6 pm.
The medical doctors maintained that it was no longer safe for their members to continue to provide healthcare services under the present confused arrangement.
They said the development became necessary as a result of the numerous complaints of police harassment from their members who were either going home after close of work, and some on transit to heed to emergency calls at the various hospitals.
They lamented that, whereas the directives by President Muhammadu Buhari, through the Presidential Taskforce on COVID 19, was clear on the exemption of essential workers including doctors and other health workers, the Commissioner of Police in Lagos State, Mr. Hakeem Odumosu, has been issuing conflicting directives that essential workers, including doctors and other health workers were not exempted.
As a direct result of the conflicting directives of the government and the Lagos State Commissioner of Police, the NMA was inundated yesterday (Tuesday, 19th of May, 2020) evening of several cases of harassments and intimidation of doctors and other health-workers by officers and men of the Lagos State Police command.
The healthcare workers were either resuming duty, returning home, or on-transit to heed an emergency call.
There was a most disturbing case of an ambulance conveying an injured patient which was prevented from moving to destination while the attending health-workers were harassed and temporarily detained.
You will recall that this same ugly situation had occurred sometimes in the early phase of the ongoing lockdown/restriction of movement based on similar conflicting directives from the State Commissioner of Police.
It took the intervention of the Governor of the State, following a petition by the Association, for normalcy to be restored.
The Lagos NMA further said that until the Government and the Lagos State Commissioner of Police, Mr Hakeem Odumosu will wish to operationalise the lockdown/restriction of movement directive, vis-à-vis the status of essential workers, NMA has resolved that it is presently unsafe for her members to continue to provide healthcare services under the present confused arrangement.
They further demanded a written statement, signed by Government and the appropriate Police Authorities, with clear terms on the status of essential services, including healthcare services and its providers.
The medical doctors insisted that the statement must be issued and advertised in the social and mainstream media, as well as a copy submitted to the Secretariat of the Lagos State Branch of NMA before they will call off the sit–at–home order.