Says strike never the best option to get demands
ABUJA – Newly-elected president, National Association of Resident Doctors of Nigeria (NARD), Dr Chinaka Ugochukwu, has said the priority of the group during his one-year tenure would be making public hospitals in the country work effectively to restore the confidence of people in the country in the facilities.
At a media parley in Abuja on Saturday December 8, Dr. Ugochukwu called on government at all levels to invest more in public hospitals in the country to stop brain drain and promote patronage of the nation’s public hospitals.
He said the medical practitioners were not happy embarking on strikes to cripple services in health facilities in the country. He promised that NARD would continue to dialogue with governments, and would do all within its powers to avert strikes. He however appealed to governments to show concerns and understanding over NARD’s demands.
Ugochukwu highlighted other programmes NARD would be embarking upon to include raising funds for cancer management in the country and conducting “We Care” programme, an outreach health intervention for less-privileged persons in the nation.
“Within this one year, we want to raise consciousness on making our hospitals work better through our “We Care” project. This project has been designed to increase advocacy for better health care services. It is not only the doctor or nurses, but we want society to be involved in raising the awareness. They can do some other things to help proper patient care management. People can donate blood, people can ask questions.
“Looking at our January NEC, we want to organize our National Executive Meeting, and the theme is “Making Our Hospitals Work Better.” We want to engage the public and ourselves on the effective ways of making the hospitals work.
“Within this one year, we are looking at our Cancer Care Support Fund. The National Association of Resident Doctors of Nigeria is embarking on a project to raise funds for helping cancer patients in their management, in their treatment. Treatment is quite expensive. But, we believe that if people come and contribute little quota, we will have money to help our cancer patients.”
He also spoke on incessant strikes that have characterized the sector: “As a person, I believe in strategic negotiation. So, for government, we are going to be engaging them. We don’t want strike. I want to emphasize we don’t like strike. We are engaging government. We (will) give ample time to negotiate with government and let them see our own point of view, especially in our time when we are trying to make the hospitals work better.
“There is a re-orientation in the narrative with the national body that everything must not be strike. But, it must be bilateral, it must be bipartisan. On our side, we are doing what we need to do to ensure that we do not make strike the first move. But, on the side of government, government should understand where we are coming from, that we are trying to preserve the health sector for our citizens. First hand, we are not going for strike. On the other hand, government should understand that what we are pushing for is to help the health sector.”
Speaking on brain drain in the health sector, which has worsened in recent years, Ugochukwu stated: “That is why we are pushing for hospitals working better in this country. Government must do something about it. One is to get our hospitals funded, when we get our hospitals funded, they will have facilities to carry out their functions. Doctors will also be happy.
“Secondly, we have said it time and again that government should ensure exchange programmes between us here and our colleagues outside. That will help a lot. Short programmes, long programmes that will help us exchange ideas and expertise.”