Resident doctors begin 5-day strike tomorrow
The National Association of Resident Doctors, NARD, today directed its members in all public hospitals in the country to suspend services, effective from 8am tomorrow (Wednesday). The hospitals are to remain shut till next Monday, to press government to meet its demands.
Consequently, both out-patients and in-patients in government hospitals across the nation will have to be treated by consultant (senior) doctors, who are often fewer in number than the resident doctors. And, as often experienced, patients with the means will move to private hospitals where medical bills are higher.
It would be recalled that this is the first time medical practitioners would down tools nationwide, since President Muhammadu Buhari-led federal government came into power. A similar action by the doctors in 2014 resulted in former President Goodluck Jonathan ordering suspension of residency training for doctors, resulting in their sack from hospitals. The decision was soon reversed, following appeals from the public.
NARD’s president, Dr Muhammad Askira, told journalists at a briefing in Abuja that government had failed to meet demands of the practitioners, even after recent assurances from President Muhammadu Buhari, when he met with leadership of the Nigerian Medical Association, NMA, and assured the doctors of prompt attention to their grievances.
According to him, indefinite strike earlier planned for last Monday had been shelved. He explained that the association would further take a decision on next line of action at the end of this month.
Askira said after critical analysis of issues affecting NARD at an “extra-ordinary” National Executive Council, NEC, meeting, the NEC observed that there were some processes still ongoing in resolving the impasse between government and the doctors, and that the efforts so far made by government had not yet met the doctors’ demands.
Issues considered at the NEC meeting, according to him, include resident doctors who work in states of the country that were yet to be paid their salaries; skipping and all accrued arrears for doctors yet to be implemented in most hospitals in the country; unpaid December salaries of doctors in some federal hospitals; and, house officers’ entry steps not effected.
The doctors argued that a committee promised by government on residency training was yet to take off, while some of their members sacked by government had not been recalled.
“After exhaustive deliberations, the NEC made the following resolution: that the proposed indefinite strike action due to commence on 9th May 2016 has been shelved. That a five-day nationwide warning strike will be embarked upon commencing from Wednesday 11 May, 2016 by 8am for work to resume on Monday 16 May, 2016 by 8:am prompt. That NARD will review the situation at our Ordinary General Meeting holding from 30 May, 2016.
“This decision is to press home our demands for implementation, in one hand, and also to enable the government enough time to expedite action in areas not adequately addressed.
“…NARD appreciates the President and Commander in Chief of the Armed Forces, President Muhammadu Buhari, the Leadership of the National Assembly, including all the members of the Senate and House Committees of Heath and Labour matters, NEC members and all well-meaning Nigerians for their positive roles since the beginning of this impasse,” NARD said.
Speaking on recurrent crisis in the nation’s health sector, especially among health professionals, Askira informed that non-medical practitioners were to blame. He argued that many non-doctors who had wanted to become doctors failed university admission test set by the Joint Admission and Matriculation Board, JAMB, and eventually accepted to study other health-related programmes adjudged by the public to be lower in value than Medicine. He stressed that when such people graduate and find themselves in the working environment with doctors, they aspire to lord themselves over the doctors.