The Nigerian Medical Association is the largest medical association in the West African sub-region with over 40,000 members from 36 state branches and the branch from the federal capital territory with about 19,000 in Diaspora. 70% of doctors practice in urban areas where only 30% of the population resides. The population of Nigeria is about 160million. Policy decisions are made by the Association’s National Executive Council (NEC) which is the governing body. The constitution of NMA is supreme and its provisions shall have binding force on all authorities, organs, branches and members of the Association and, where applicable, on any other persons. Any Act CAP 221 Laws of the federation of Nigeria (1990) and as subsequently amended shall have a right of membership of the Association on payment of the annual practicing fee in the said Act as may be reviewed from time to time, unless otherwise prescribed herein in the constitution. The National Executive Council is the governing body of the Association and has full powers to act on its behalf in the period between the Annual Delegates’ Meetings in accordance with the provisions of the Constitution of the Association unless otherwise stated in the constitution.

Although the Association is involved in many of the government’s activities, it is consulted formally by the government only on an ad-hoc’ basis. It is not consulted ad ‘of right’ on health issues and has to press for its participation. The Association nominates eleven members of the Medical & Dental Council of Nigeria which regulates the practice of medicine & dentistry in Nigeria and the curricula of its medical schools.

The NMA is at present involved in influencing health policy formulation in an ad hoc manner. This is done by making unsolicited recommendations to government on various health issues and also by making-inputs, whenever invited, to some of the national committee meetings on policy formulations.

The Association holds training courses for doctors, and participates in radio programmes and TV talk shows. It has several on-going projects including those on AIDS, on family planning and on primary health care. Project development is dependent upon outside funding. Funding agencies supporting the Association’s activities include UNFPA, UNICEF, WHO, USAID, The Ford Foundation, and the John D and Catherine T MacArthur Foundation.

The Association collaboration in specific projects on health issues with individual NGOs and with National Association of Non-Government Organizations on health (NANGOH)

The NMA plans to make in-roads into the Federal Ministry of health to ensure that it is involved on all aspects of policy formulation, especially in the planning stages.

It is also planned that the NMA continues to cooperate with government in project development so that the association many be represented on the delegations to regional an international health conferences.

The NMA is the host of the permanent Secretariat of the Confederation of African Medical Associations and Societies (CAMAS). The Association is developing a proposal to involve all African Medical Associations and Societies (Anglophone, Francophone and Arabic-speaking) in efforts to improve reproductive health and safe motherhood in African.

HISTORY

The origin of the Nigerian Medical Association dates back to 1951, when the British Medical Association tried to form a branch in Nigeria. Thus at the January 12th 1951 meeting where it was agreed to form such a branch, Professor O.A. Ajose was elected President and Dr. Brian S. Jones, an Orthopaedic Surgical Specialist, Honorary Secretary, Dr. M.A. Majekodunmi succeeded Dr. Jones as Honorary Secretary in December, 1951. The former was later appointed Federal Minister of Health, a post he held from 1961to 1966

Initial problems of the Association commenced with Dr. Jones unsuccessful eight month attempt to form divisions in the West, East and North in order to make the branch countrywide. Most members were Government Officials who would not therefore accept offices. Further more, assistance sought from Government with regard to the formation of a division in the North because of the long distance and poor transport services met with a refusal. This was due to Government hostility as the association was described as an “unofficial society”

The first countrywide Annual General Meeting held at the General Hospital Lagos in March 1952 revealed the problems, which the Association would have to cope with or find solution to.

Such problems, which are still being dealt with today, include disagreement with members particularly over non-payment of subscriptions and with Government over the role that should be played by its officials: as well as remuneration to be paid to doctors in its employment.

The above meeting was clearly historic. Firstly, Government made it clear that is would not tolerate criticisms from its staff. And secondly Dr. Mcletchie expressed certain views, which it was rumoured, led to his being reprimanded at the headquarters. As a result of this incident it was proposed and adopted that no Government official should accept an office in the Association. Sir Kofo Abayomi was elected president and Dr. Olatunji Adeniyi Jones, Honorary Secretary.

By May 1954, the issue of re-organization of Medical services in Nigeria had become a struggle with the Government. While the Mcletchie episode had given the impression of Government disapproval of the branch, criticisms of Government hospital and medical services also had the headquarters suspecting every move of the British Medical Association. Personal relationships between top officials of the medical department and those of the British Medical Association branch were not of much help either. This spirit of mutual suspicion continued well into the middle sixties with the result that well-meaning proposals that would have done a lot of good to the community were rejected over and over again by successive Governments. The issue of re-organization of medical services is a case in point.

Lack of unity of purpose among the divisions of the country also created problems. For instance Dr. Hadden from the North announced that Northern member dissociated themselves from the branch when the Association refused to be used by Government to get its civil service members to obey the regulations governing private practice. It was probably decided for this reason to hold the next Annual General Meeting outside Lagos.

Despite the lack of cordial relationship with Government, Government approached the association whenever it needed the help of the Medical Profession. On submission of a memorandum by the branch on 3rd March 1954 concerning re-organizing of medical services, conflict arose once more as Government insisted that expansion and not reorganization was what was needed. Disagreement also arose over the amount to be paid private practitioners on sectional duties.

At the Annual General Meeting of 1960, members decided that the British Medical Association branch had matured into the Nigeria Medical Association. By 1962, the Nigeria Medical Association had obtained Government recognition and it was registered under the Land Perpetual Act and Certificate of Incorporation (31st July, 1962). After 1963, the association gradually developed from being an oligarchy into a more democratic organization. The divisions formed in 1958 in the East, West, North and Lagos had grown into branches. The Eastern branch proved the most virile while Lagos had virile moments. The West state branch became the best organized and has often proved the most militant.

Despite shaky moments the association’s organ the Nigeria Medical Journal, founded in 1964 has been the mainstay of the Association since then, Now approaching the status of an international organ it has lived up to a good reputation in that it has not been used as a weapon to fight the association cause as could have been done. This was done to preserve its function as a purely scientific organ. Its sole purpose has therefore been to crystallize Nigerian Scientific Medical Opinion.

The Nigeria Medical Association Founded in 1960 began initially as a branch of the British Medical Association. Like any other body, it went through certain difficulties. This involved relations with government, financial constraints and re-organization of health services.

Members were aware that they had change the image of their profession as criticisms were level against the attitudes and moral standards prevalent in the conduct of doctors in Nigeria. An indicator for change in this sphere is the New Medical Practitioners and Dentists Act which arose from the concern which professional men and administrators have viewed standards in medicine.

It seeks to make the Nigerian Doctors the arbiters of his own conduct thereby indicating their readiness, willingness and maturity of conscience to maintain the high standards envisaged. Thus parliament passed the new Medical Practitioners and Dentists Act in 1963, it was initiated by Dr. M.A. Majekodunmi. Various issue have since then been raised either by Government or the association.

The 1964 press conference by the Federal Minister for Health, Dr. M.A. Majekodunmi referred to the pressing issue of shortage of doctors. The Nigeria Medical Association has a regards this issue made a recommendation in 1966 that a new Medical School should be built in the country every five years.

The editorial of the association’s journal of October 1971, further points to the issue of allocation of resources to the health sector. The Nigerian Medical Association’s position is that Government should increase funding to at least five percent of total Federal annual budget as recommended by the World Health Organization.

The Association has always held the view that health services could be improved through restructuring of hospitals to function under executive boards of management to be run by men of the necessary standing, integrity and experience of affairs.

Other issues important to the nation as viewed by the Nigeria Medical Association are the sitting of hospital services to provide health for all Nigerians, majority of whom live in the rural areas, Health education which should be an important function of the hospital as well as the question of the Youth Service Corp, a concept of compulsory practice in the rural areas for doctors proposed by the Association earlier on.

The Nigerian Medical Association thus grew from being a branch of the British Medical Association into a National Association in Nigeria. It became one of the four recognized professional bodies in Nigeria and its participation in the improvement of health and health related matters took on more important dimensions from then on.

NMA PAST PRESIDENTS

S/N   NAME YEAR 
1 Chief Hon. Sir Kofo Abayomi 1960 – 1964
2 Dr. Okechukwu Ikejiani 1964 – 1966
3 Dr. Folorunsho Salawu 1966 – 1968
4 Prof. E. Ade Elebute 1968 – 1970
5 Dr. (Chief) A. S. Agbaje 1970 – 1971
6 Dr. (Chief) A. Jose Williams 1971 – 1973
7 Prof. T. F. Solanke 1973 – 1974
8 Dr. Christopher G. Okojie 1974 – 1975
9 Dr. Ekpo E. Eyo 1975 – 1977
10 Prof. E. O. Olurin 1977 – 1979
11 Dr. Anjorin Animashaun 1979 – 1981
12 Dr. Bayo Banjo 1981 – 1983
13 Dr. P.I. Okolo 1983 – 1984
14 Dr. E. Thompson Akpabio 1984 – 1988
15 Dr. Chief (Mrs) T. A. Abiola Oshodi 1988 – 1990
16 Dr. S. E. Osunde 1990 – 1991
17 Dr. M. I. L. Shehu, Mni 1991 – 1993
18 Dr. Boniface Oye-Adeniran, Mni 1993 – 1997
19 Dr. George C. Okpagu, Mni 1997 – 2000
 20 Dr. Dominic Osaghae, Mni 2000 – 2002
21 Dr. Stephen C. Kitchener, OON 2002 – 2004
22 Prof. Wole Atoyebi 2004 – 2006
23 Dr. Daniel Gana, Mni 2006 – 2008
24 Dr. Prosper i. Igboeli 2008 – 2010
25 Dr. Omede Idris 2010 – 2012
26 Dr. Osahon Enabulele 2012 – 2014

                                   NMA PAST SECRETARY GENERAL

S/N  NAME  YEAR
1 Dr. M. A. Majekodunmi 1951 – 1953
2 Dr. O. Adeniyi – Jones 1954 – 1957
3 Dr. M. A. Majekodunmi 1958 – 1959
4 Dr. F. Salawu 1960 – 1963
5 Dr. Oly Mabayoje 1963 – 1967
6 Dr. L. Abosede Emmanuel 1967 – 1969
7 Dr. (Chief) N. E. Henshaw 1969 – 1971
8 Prof. T. O. Johnson 1971 – 1972
9 Dr. E. A. Bucknor 1972 – 1975
10 Dr. Yomi Finnih 1975 – 1978
11 Dr. L. I. Kufeji 1978 – 1979
12 Dr. Beko Ransome – Kuti 1979 – 1982
13 Dr. M. O. Quadri 1982 – 1993
14 Dr. Ayo Ojo 1983 – 1984
15 Dr. Ayo Falope 1984 – 1985
16 Dr. Rotimi Ola 1986 – 1988
17 Dr. Michael Ekpo (1988 (July) – 1990)
18 Dr. I. F. Adewole 1990 – 1992
19 Dr. Wole Atoyebi 1992 – 1994
 20 Dr. Lanre Omotayo 1994 – 1996
21 Dr. Victor Inem 1996 – 1998
22 Dr. Abidoye Gbadegesin 1998 – 2000
23 Dr. Chief Bayo Adeniye 2000 – 2002
24 Dr. Lawal Khalid, mni 2002 – 2004
25 Dr. Olukayode Akinlade 2004 – 2006
26 Dr. I. F. Abdul 2006 – 2008
27 Dr. Kenneth J. Okoro 2008 – 2010
28 Dr. Bala M. Audu 2010-2012
29 Dr. Akpufuoma L. Pemu 2012 – 2014

National Executives