The presidential task force (PTF) on COVID-19 has appealed to resident doctors currently on strike to return to work.
Boss Mustapha, secretary to the government of the federation (SGF) and PTF chairman, urged the doctors to consider the appropriateness of going on strike at this time.
At the task force briefing on Thursday, Mustapha said some of the issues in contention over the strike were negotiated more than five years ago.
He said although the PTF has not intervened in the situation as a body, it will not hesitate to do so when the need arises.
“I would want to make an appeal to the resident doctors to be considerate about the plight of Nigerians at this moment. We are dealing with a public health matter so it affects everybody,” he said.
“And to consider the appropriateness of the propriety of withdrawing services at this time on issues negotiated some six, seven years ago; I heard some were decisions reached in 2014.
“My appeal to them is, yes, they might have legitimate claims which every employee has, but I want them to consider the appropriateness of the timing; whether this is the best time to press so hard their demands at the expense of exposing the entirety of their people to the scourge of COVID-19.
“If at any moment, our intervention as a task force is required, we will not hesitate because we believe this is not the time and we must get everybody to be on board to ensure we provide the minimum of the services our people require.”
Mustapha urged the resident doctors to also consider some of their colleagues that have been infected with the coronavirus.
“I would want them to consider this; is it the appropriate time to take such very drastic and adverse measures that have the tendency of affecting all of us even among the resident doctors?” he queried.
“I heard one of their officials say over 200 of them have been infected in the course of their work attending to patients. So, what happens to the cure of these members if they decide to withdraw from their service at this moment. How will they be cared for?”
The National Association of Resident Doctors of Nigeria (NARD) commenced a nationwide strike on Monday, although with the exemption of doctors treating COVID-19 patients at designated treatment and isolation centres.
Aliyu Sokomba, president of NARD, said they are demanding the provision of adequate personal protective equipment for all health workers, and the universal implementation of medical residency training act in all federal and state hospitals.
He also said the doctors are demanding the immediate implementation of the revised hazard allowance and payment of the COVID-19 inducement allowance agreed with the government and healthcare workers.
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