Even after many engagements with the minister of labour, Dr Chris Ngige promising their emolument will start hitting their individual accounts on or before June 12, nothing is forthcoming according to National Association of Resident Doctors (NARD) as it says an indefinite nationwide strike commences today.
This was as the expiration of the 14-day ultimatum issued to federal government ends.
Among the demands of the doctors are immediate implementation of the revised hazard allowance and payment of the COVID-19 inducement allowance as “agreed by government and healthcare workers” three months ago. They also want immediate payment of all arrears owed doctors in federal and state tertiary health institutions, arising from consequential adjustment of the national minimum wage.
According to the NMA, there are 72,000 registered Nigerian doctors with over 50 per cent practising outside the country. Consequently, there are less than 40,000 doctors in an estimated population of 196 million.
President of the National Association of Resident Doctors (NARD), Dr Aliyu Sokomba, who announced the commencement of the strike at a press conference yesterday in Abuja said NARD’s members attending to Covid-19 patients at designated treatment and isolation centres were exempted from the strike for two weeks after which, if their demands were not met, they would also be co-opted to join the industrial action.
He explained that the exemption was in recognition of the intervention of the speaker of the House of Representatives, the chairman of the House Committee on Health Services and other stakeholders as well as a demonstration of NARD’s goodwill to Nigerians.
The NARD president expressed concern over the plight of members of the association in state hospitals such as the non- domestication and non-implementation of the Medical Residency Training Act, the non-implementation of appropriate salary structure, non-payment of salaries, and recently, the slashing of salaries of doctors and other healthcare workers by Kaduna and Kogi states.
Sokomba decried the sorry state of the healthcare delivery system in the country which, according to him, is characterized by perpetual unavailability of personnel protective equipment for workers in the hospitals with the attendant increase in infection rates and unnecessary suffering of patients and their relatives following the use of obsolete equipment, machines and technology.
NARD urged the governments to provide adequate personal protective equipment for all healthcare workers, ensure universal implementation of the Medical Residency Training Act in all federal and state hospitals and ensure pay parity among doctors of the equal cadre.
The association advocated the provision of funding for medical residency training in the 2021 Appropriation Bill even as it called for a stoppage and immediate refund of all illegal, unjust and callous cut in salaries of its members by Kaduna and other states.
“We will continue to appreciate President Mohammadu Buhari for his commitment to the welfare of Nigerians, as we appeal that he calls relevant agents/agencies to order from deliberately creating chaos to destabilize his administration”