Healthcare providers in Enugu State have called for a ceasefire in all disagreements among them in order to form a strong force to enhance greater understanding and service delivery to patients.
The health professionals comprised medical doctors, nurses, laboratory scientists, pharmacists, physiotherapists and practitioners in other related fields converged on the Enugu Campus of the University of Nigeria (UNEC) for a one-day seminar on Inter-professional Relationships in Medical Practice and Restoration of Professional Dignity. They were drawn from government and private health institutions in Enugu State.
Chairman of the Enugu State branch of Nigerian Medical Association (NMA), Mr. Obinna Onodugo, the organisers of the event, warned of the grave dangers of conflict among health professionals, even as he reminded his colleagues of the need to always place the welfare of patients first.
Onodugo also emphasised the need for collaboration among stakeholders in order to move the industry forward, adding that team work remained the key to effective and durable healthcare.
He said: “Let us understand our roles and stick to them to avoid friction among us. The function of every health professional is as important as the other. Let this new dawn of marriage begin from Enugu State, so that others can learn of the good news, and then join the vanguard of change.”
He, however, denied any suppression of other health professionals by medical doctors working in government and private hospitals in the country, explaining that so many things that were tenable abroad could not work in Nigerian health institutions.
Also speaking, former chairman of the West African College of Physicians, Prof. Bede Ibe, identified indiscipline among some healthcare personnel as one of the major problems facing the health sector. He urged members to accord priority to the interest of patients while maintaining high ethical standards in the discharge of their duty.
He commended Dr. Obinna Onodugo for organising the seminar, stressing that such dialogue was necessary in order to improve healthcare delivery in Nigeria.
Delivering a lecture entitled “Inter-Professional Relationship in Medical Practice, the Public Perspective, the Provost of College of Medicine, Anambra State University Uli, Prof. Frank Akpuaka, observed that the objectives of national healthcare system and areas of inter-professional conflict were mainly to provide effective, efficient, quality, accessible and affordable healthcare services that would improve health status of Nigerians.
The Provost, whose paper was presented on the occasion by an independent consultant in Accident and Emergency Medicine, Dr. Philip Ume-Ezeoke, stated that the main target of the national healthcare system was to reduce child mortality and maternal mortality rates, halt HIV and AIDS, malaria, leprosy and other major diseases like tuberculosis, measles, polio and others through extensive immunisation programmes.
Continuing, he said: “There should be a collaborative and cohesive inter-professional relationship among doctors and other medical professionals, the old world view of doctors as “healers” next to God, reigning supreme and looking down on other medical professionals is an “old school mentality”, this concept is no longer accepted in modern medical practice.”
Speaking on “Role of the Medical Laboratory Scientists, the Evolving Nature of Healthcare Delivery,” Chairman of Enugu State branch of the Association of Medical Laboratory Scientists, Mr. Chinenye Nwaekpe, said that today’s patients had varied needs and required more discipline to effectively address, pointing out that before now, the clinician was viewed as the sole gateway to the medical services within the healthcare system of a country, even as times were changing due to increasing knowledge of the use of other healthcare professionals as their first port of call.
Nwaekpe, fondly addressed by his colleagues as the doyen of Laboratory Science in Africa, further explained that medical laboratory science was not only a regulated profession practised by trained and licensed professionals, but also as the diagnostic searchlight of both traditional and modern medicine.
The State Chairman maintained that laboratory services are essential component of healthcare delivery and could be utilised effectively at every level of healthcare. He noted that in the African region, many commonly presenting diseases might be diagnosed, using basic essential laboratory tests, a major reason that the services must be regarded as an integral part of an effective and quality healthcare system.
Also in her lecture on “Inter-professional Relationships in Medical Practice, the Role of the Nurse, former Principal of the School of Nursing, University of Nigeria Teaching Hospital (UNTH) Enugu, Dr Chika Ugochukwu, was of the view that modern healthcare practice involved a team of health professions, namely medicine, pharmacy, nursing, medical laboratory science, medical rehabilitation medicine and other professional health groups.
Dr Ugochukwu said team work succeeds and thrives only in an atmosphere of respect and reciprocity among team members, performing their different roles.
The nursing legend, however, noted that the major group around who healthcare relationships resolves are doctors and nurses as the doctor is in charge of the patient and head of the team, while the nurse is in charge of the ward and care setting.
She also said relationship in health is not forced, but is an obligation and necessity. Mr. Dennis Ikeyi and a renowned pharmacist, Cyril Aninwike, also presented papers at the occasion.
The seminar attracted several healthcare professionals and managers of government and private hospitals. They included the Medical Director of National Orthopedic Hospital Enugu, Dr Cajetan Nwadinigwe, Dean of Faculty of Health Sciences and Technology University of Nigeria Nsukka, Prof. Obinna Onwujekwe, Chairman of Medical and Dental Council of Nigeria, Prof. Jonathan Azubike and former Chief Medical Director UNTH Ituku Ozalla, Enugu State, Dr Anthony Mba.
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