Mixed reactions have continued to trail the recent Federal Government agreement with the medical and health workers, particularly on the issue of the Chairman of the Nursing and Midwifery Council of Nigeria, NMCN, a parastatal of the Federal Government of Nigeria established by Act Cap. No143 Laws of the Federation of Nigeria, 2004.
The Council, which is the sole regulatory body for all cadres of nurses and midwives in Nigeria, has the objective of ensuring high quality of nursing and midwifery education in the country by maintaining high standard of professional practice.
Findings by Good Health Weekly reveal that under the NMCN Act , the Minister of Health has discretionary power to appoint the Chairman of the Council. W
Although the Act is specific on qualifications of other members constituting the Council, it does not, however, state that the appointee must be from the nursing profession.
It was gathered that government had earlier appointed a medical doctor, Mrs. Abisola Clark, as Chairperson of the Council. However during the recent negotiation between Federal Government and striking health workers, the issue was brought up with the Minister of Health, Professor Onyebuchi Chukwu who promised to look into the issue, saying “those are some of the errors that can sometimes happen along the line. I believe that Government will amend where necessary.”
The general position in some circles is that government erred by appointing a medical doctor Chairman of the Council and calls are being made for a reversal for the sake of peace.
However, other stakeholders argue that having somebody outside the field of nursing such as a medical doctor at the head, would give room for unbaised assessment.
A source from the Ministry told Good Health Weekly that past appointees who were not medical personnel had held key positions in the health ministry without complaint from any source, noting that raising the issue during the negotiation was just a way of taking advantage of government determination to ensure quick return of peace and harmony in the health sector.
It is feared that a reversal of the appointment, might be set off a chain reaction of demands for more of such reversals in the nearest future.
An Abuja based lawyer, Mr. Kayode Ajulo, however noted that the appointment of a medical practitioner as the head of the Council, is in line with global practice. He noted that the issue should be the level of competence of the appointee and not the professional background.
Further, Ajulo said in the United Kingdom which boasts one of the best healthcare services in the world, the nursing and midwifery council is headed by a civil servant. “The Council is purely a regulatory board out to monitor, control and regulate activities of nurses to ensure that the nurses abide with the regulation of services,” he said.