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Dear members and friends of MANSAG
I use the opportunity of the Special Newsletter “celebration” of our successful Charity Ball 2012 in support of Sight Savers, and our 3rd Educational Symposium at the Ball to keep you aware of the progress of MANSAG, and the work which the executive committee and sub-committees are doing on your behalf.
Charity should begin at home, even if stories emanating from home are clearly uncharitable. We must therefore first grieve and mourn the loss of lives in the recent Dana Air crash. We sympathise with all families, including several MANSAG members, who lost loved ones and friends. A critical evaluation of that disaster, if we ever develop such a culture as a nation, will attest to everything that is wrong with our country and our organs. It will uncover our lack of insight and Situational Awareness regarding disaster avoidance and mitigation. MANSAG will continue to advocate for a new ethos of Governance and Quality, not just in our health care systems but in all facets of the Nigerian society. We recognize that needless lives are lost from avoidable air and road disasters, and that those who barely survive are left maimed and severely disabled in a setting bereft of provisions for the disabled and of any meaningful health insurance schemes.
Making reference to disasters of this kind, together with the scourge of terror and bombings enveloping many parts of the country, MANSAG in collaboration with our sister organisation the Association of Nigerian Physicians in the Americas (ANPA) recently wrote to the Nigerian Minister of Health and the respective chairs of the National Assembly committees for Health requesting an audience at the National Council on Health to speak to the need for an Accident and Emergency Medicine care service in Nigeria, an ethos of Clinical Governance and Quality and a need to stem the health tourism of Nigerians and her medical professionals to countries with substandard facilities such as India. We offered that Diaspora health professionals in Europe and the Americas can contribute to redress these unwelcome and unhelpful trends. We must now await their response to our requests.
In response to continuing complaints of Diaspora Doctors being charged retroactive fees on return to temporary practice in Nigeria, we have had to engage yet again in correspondence with the Medical and Dental Council of Nigeria, which culminated in yet further clarification from the MDCN that diaspora doctors should not be made to pay, or should not allow ourselves to be levied, retroactively for a period of time when they have not practised in Nigeria. We request all colleagues to resist and challenge any such levies. MANSAG remains happy to help individual doctors who find themselves at the receiving end of such demands.
MANSAG has engaged with an ongoing process of review of the Undergraduate Medical Curriculum in Nigeria, collaborating with ANPA, USAID, the Federal Ministry of Health, the MDCN, the National Universities Commissions amongst others. A template document for recommendation and commendation to Nigerian Universities is in the final stages of completion and ratification.
While we await news of improving security in many parts of the country, our medical missions committee continues to do outstanding work by forging ahead with collaborative grant applications to fund medical missions to Nigeria. MANSAG delegates will be visiting the Federal Medical Centre Abeokuta in September to initiate a sustained programme of partnership in skills transfer and training. Our subcommittee chairman James Nwabineli, Consultant Gynaecologist South Tyneside, represented MANSAG at a Europe-wide forum to discuss strategy for accessing European funding pots for medical missions projects in Africa, Nigeria included – the 1st African Diaspora European Expert Meeting March 2012 in Frankfurt, Germany. The issue remains not the willingness of Diaspora doctors to engage Nigeria but that of Nigeria to welcome and engage UK Diaspora doctors in a coordinated way.
Having digressed briefly to issues relevant to home Nigeria, we must acknowledge that the Month of May 2012 witnessed two highly successful MANSAG events in London. Thanks to outstanding work by the London Ball Local Organising committee, we raised £2,000 in aid of Sight Savers, whilst reflecting on the scourge of blindness and vision impairment in Nigeria, including the unwelcome statistic that up to 4 million Nigerians are clinically blind, 70% suffering ailments that are treatable and preventable. Whilst donating the said amount to SightSavers, MANSAG will offer the expertise of our members for “missions for vision” in Nigeria to enhance visual health. Our 3rd Educational Symposium at the Ball was arguably the best so far. About 70 members and friends attended but the galaxy of speakers, and the sheer quality and breadth of their presentations could have done with a much larger audience. The vision of this executive committee that experts from amongst us can provide a high calibre faculty for such an Annual event for us, by us and from us has been borne out, thanks to the starling work of our PCM (Education) committee led by Jacob Akoh (President Elect) as Chair and Ibrahim Imam (Secretary General Elect) as Secretary. We encourage a massive turnout for next year’s Ball and Educational Symposium which will happen in the West Midlands in May 2013, with Mrs Dorothy Apakama, Consultant in Accident and Emergency Medicine and our Social and Welfare Secretary Elect leading the local organising committee. We thank her for agreeing to take on this task.
Our Annual general conference this year is in Leeds October 26-28th 2012. Programme details are emerging at our web site and will be circulated shortly. The LOC led by Mr Tunde Gbolade, Consultant Gynaecologist in Leeds has been working round the clock to give us an unforgettable event. The developing programme is full and exciting and promises to attempt to eclipse the hugely successful AGC in Manchester 2011, about which I have very fond memories, except of course the memory of the annihilation of my Manchester United by our allegedly “noisy neighbours” Manchester City the same weekend. The English Premier League is not won by fluke so we must congratulate City, begrudgingly, for a job well done! Your family cannot afford to miss the MANSAG Leeds AGC this year, when this executive will hand over to a brand new and capable team to take MANSAG to the next level in our journey to relevance and influence for the good of our members, friends and patients.
MANSAG as the umbrella organisation representing Diaspora doctors and health professionals in the UK is a truly broad church, and we have been working hard to ensure that we are as welcoming to allied health professionals as we are to our medical members. Following your directive at the last AGM, we set up the Allied Health Professionals subcommittee, led by Polycarp Gana, who looked at how MANSAG can be more relevant to our current and aspiring AHP members. They did a truly outstanding job and their recommendations have been adopted by the executive committee and will form the basis of discussions and resolutions leading up to and at the AGM in Leeds in October. The work of the AHP committee will also facilitate AHP member involvement in our medical missions projects in such a way that MANSAG is better equipped to undertake skills transfer in a more holistic manner that involves other key professionals such as nurses, midwives, radiographers, and social workers.
Engagement with the GMC and Royal Colleges. You will know from the forwarded messages circulated regularly by our indomitable Secretary General Elie Okirie that our relationship and collaboration with the GMC is very strong with consultations on various facets of the current GMC agenda, ranging from Revalidation, fitness to practice issues, and induction for foreign medical graduates into UK practice to the more general issues regarding the strategic direction of the GMC as they relate to the medical profession. This has been made possible by a very active and vocal BME forum within the GMC to which we belong and are regularly represented and consulted. We are in discussion with the Royal College of Physicians regarding our potential involvement in the next cycle of West African projects between the RCP and the WACP. Once the terms of the collaboration are clarified we will need Physicians from amongst us to volunteer to take part in the exercise.
Finally, grateful thanks are due from this executive to all those members who are standing up to serve in one capacity or the other. We encourage all doctors to formalise their financial membership and participation in MANSAG. Our strength is in our diversity of skills and disciplines and our resolve to pull together to demonstrate that those virtues of high intellect and skill which makes Nigerians some of the best doctors in the world can be mixed with the attributes of efficiency, dedication and doggedness which we have imbibed in Great Britain to continue to improve our lot and the lot of Nigerians in Nigeria also.
On behalf of the MANSAG Executive Committee