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Leave of absence: NMA threatens to sue FG for banning health workers

The Nigerian Medical Association (NMA) has threatened to take a legal action against the federal government’s plan to ban healthcare workers from taking leave of absence.

Among others, leave of absence is when an employee takes time off work for an extended period of time to undergo advanced study, especially outside the country.

The Minister of State for Health, Dr. Tunji Alausa, had on Saturday, said that the federal government had directed that health workers going abroad to seek greener pastures must henceforth resign their appointments before embarking on such journeys.

He said the era of health workers exiting country in search of better offers after applying for a leave of absence was no longer acceptable.

Speaking on Channels TV, Dr. Uche Ojinmah, President of the NMA, questioned the government’s reasoning behind the ban.

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He emphasized that healthcare workers are part of the public service and should be entitled to the same benefits as other civil servants, including leave of absence.

He said, “Few days ago I heard government is planning to ban healthcare workers from having leave of absence. The fundamental truth is that is healthcare workers a public servant or not?

“If a healthcare worker is part of the public service I believe whatever is applicable to public servants should be applicable to healthcare workers.

“The constitution of Nigeria does not allow undue segregation against anybody for any reason. I believe if the healthcare worker is part and parcel of the federal civil service and there are laid down benefits within the system, nobody should bar healthcare worker from benefiting what others are benefiting.

“If a healthcare worker has the opportunity for developing himself further outside this country, he would no longer be allowed to do that? I think we should stop chasing the shadows and the reality before us. We all know why these people are leaving, the solution to the problem is mitigating the reasons that are pushing them out of the country.

“Well, we are in democracy and nothing stops us from taking steps in court. If you know I am special, then treat me in special manner; that is how it should be.”

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