NMA Holds 2021 Conference, As Prof. Ikechebelu Urges Members to Shun Vilification

NMA Holds 2021 Conference, As Prof. Ikechebelu Urges Members to Shun Vilification

By Izunna Okafor

Members of the Nigerian Medical Association, NMA (Anambra State Chapter) have been advised to stop condemning and saying negative things about their colleagues and fellow members in the practice, irrespective of the circumstances on ground.

The Deputy Vice Chancellor, Administration, Nnamdi Azikiwe University, Awka, Prof Joseph Ikechebelu gave this charge while speaking at the 2021 edition of the Annual General Meeting / Scientific Conference of the Nigeria Medical Association, NMA, themed: "Tissues and Organ Donation: Scope, Prospect and Ethical Challenges" which held at Senator Uche Ekwunife Event Center Awka, Anambra State capital.

Addressing the NMA members, Prof. Ikechebelu, who is the Chief Promoter of Life International Hospital, Awka, said, "As much as possible, let us stop letting down our colleagues when a patient is referred by them late, because you don't know why. Stop condemning your colleagues to shine after hearing from patients or relatives of patients, without hearing from your colleagues..."

A world-class Obstetrician and Gynecologist, and expert in Minimal Access Surgery (Gynae Endoscopy) and Human Reproduction (In-Vitro fertilization), Prof. Ikechebelu, however, also charged doctors to stop holding on to patients, but always refer immediately when they have done their best, to avoid complications.

He also called for sustainable practical practice registration and indemnity, for members to be able to stand by each other in time of need and crisis, and distractive litigations. He encouraged that litigations should be resolved through advocacy to avoid escalating to other ugly discoveries and multiplying. 

While advocating against public medical litigation panel, Prof. Ikechebelu, who is also the Chairman and Chief Examiner , Faculty of Obstetrics and Gynecology, West African College of Surgeons, further advised medical doctors to stay within error margin in the practice and involve colleagues when necessary. 

He equally called on the doctors to always save life first and talk about bill later whenever there is emergency. 

Earlier in his speech, entitled" What To Do When Threatened Or Already Sued", Prof Ikechebelu warned doctors not to ignore any threat or suit as it's to their own peril to ignore. 

He encouraged that any doctor involved in any litigation should open dialogue or advocacy with the involved patient, client or party as well as notify your lawyer for professional advice and particularly use NMA legal unit if he has no personal or facility legal personnel. He urged them to notify NMA in any suit and seek counsel on existing NMA deliberations and guidelines. 

He further charged them to treat every patient, case or client as a potential litigation waiting to happen by having an alert antenna or index of suspicion, hence the need to have accurate and timely documentations. 

On his own part, the Abia State Chairman of the Nigeria Medical Association (NMA), Dr. Chimezie Okwuonu who delivered a Keynote Paper at the event said that hospitals in Nigeria have amassed seventy per cent success in kidney transplant in recent times.

He further testified that the country has achieved success in the area of kidney donation, and noted that a handful of hospitals in the country presently carry out kidney transplantation, as against what was obtainable in the past.

Dr. Okwuonu disclosed that the country has recorded over seventy per cent one-year survival in both patient and organ kidney transplantation, but, however, decried that many Nigerians die due to their inability to afford transplantation. 

"A lot of patients are too poor to afford kidney transplant as it takes an average of N7-10 million to get a transplant done and as a result, a lot of patients lose their lives," he said.

He frowned at and described as unethical, the latest trend where Nigerian youths donate their organs for quick financial return, blaming such evil attitude on the poor economic situation of the country, advocating for altruistic donation.

The medical expert also commended Lagos State Government for passing a bill for extraction of organs from deceased persons and persons on the verge of death, noting that such bill would cease to encourage youths from indulging in organs sells. He also said the bill is timely and would make donor organs available for Nigerians with critical cases.

Earlier speaking, Anambra State Governor, Chief Dr. Willie Obiano, said his administration was ready to make Anambra a medical tourist state where people can treat challenging health issues such as cancer and surgeries.

Represented by the state's Commissioner for Health, Dr. Vincent Okpala debunked claims by a certain group that health centers in the state are poorly equipped, noting that about 330 health centres in the state has keyed into the state's basic healthcare provision fund.

He explained that the state government created a system where every political ward learns to take ownership of public health centre in their area and that gone are the days when people thought money for healthcare is being misappropriated by government.

"The fund goes straight to the community wards and to groups known as ward development,  headed by a member of that ward.  Their job is that every quarter of the year, they go back to the work plan of the things they need to face in their centres and when money trickles in, they use it to solve the problem," he said.

In a remark, Dr. Emma C. Emelumadu, said Nigeria seriously lags behind on the issues of Tissues and Organ Donation which he said forms the important part of success in medicine to the extension of human life.

Dr. Emelumadu, who decried the fate of medical practitioners in the COVID-19 plagued world, said the event would be a wakeup call for improved medical endeavour, while he also called for a critical review for the safety of practitioners in the country.

Earlier in his address, Anambra and Southeast NMA Chairman, Dr. Jide
Onyekwelu, described the annual general meeting as an avenue to
brainstorm on new developments in healthcare delivery and dovetail
discussions to bear on the health of the people.

Dr. Onyekwelu who described the meeting as avenue to celebrate
individuals that have excelled in medical practice, harped on the need of the state branch to erect befitting secretariat. He also beckoned on healthcare partners to assist the chapter in achieving her
objective in the state through financial donations and the likes.

The Local Organizing Committee Chairperson, Anambra state, Dr. Jane Ezeonu, while commending the success of the event, said it marked the beginning of the Association's 2-days AGM/Sc  event which will be laced with opening ceremony, scientific sessions and panel discussions.

Present at the event was the former Commissioner for health Anambra State , Dr. Joe Akabuike, now the Medical Director Chukwuemeka Odimegwu Ojukwu Teaching Hospital Awka, in his statement implored the need of establishing specialists of various diagnoses as it will aid the efficient running of medical tourist center in the Anambra state.

A member of NMA Anambra State Chapter and medical consultant, Dr. Sir Chinedu Ilokanuno said the theme of the conference was apt and described the the 2021 annual conference of NMA as a huge success.