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Nigeria's healthcare crumbles, resident doctors vow to continue strike

  The National Association of Resident Doctors, on Friday, insisted that it would continue the ongoing nationwide strike until the Federal G...

 

The National Association of Resident Doctors, on Friday, insisted that it would continue the ongoing nationwide strike until the Federal Government implements the terms of their agreement, including the payment of salary arrears and indemnity for their colleagues who died from COVID-19.


The resident doctors’ strike entered its second day on Friday.


The ARD President, University of Benin Teaching Hospital, Dr Ifeanyin Ofuani, said patients were not being attended to because the strike was total.


Ofuani told the News Agency of Nigeria that, while no resident doctor would attend to any patient, whether emergency or otherwise, consultants were however on the ground to attend to emergency patients.

When reminded of a claim by the Federal Government that it had reached an agreement with the association, Ofuani refuted the claim, saying, “We have not reached any agreement with the Federal Government.

“They gave us another memorandum of understanding or action, whatever they call it, to sign and we are tired of that. We have been signing that since 2014 and up till today, they have not honoured any of the memoranda. We want action; we don’t want memoranda anymore.”


In Jalingo, Taraba State, the Federal Medical Centre and the State Specialist Hospital offered skeletal services. One of our correspondents observed that only emergency cases were being attended to at the State Specialist Hospital.


The ARD President in the hospital, Dr Gabriel Ahmed said “We are complying with the strike and until we have a contrary directive from the national (leadership), we can’t do otherwise.”


At the FMC Jalingo, the ARD President, Dr Divine Njadze, told one of our correspondents in a telephone interview that doctors were complying with the strike, saying, “Only those on Consolidated Medical Salary Structure 6 and above, as well as medical consultants and chief medical officers, are offering skeletal services at the hospital.


“For us on CONMESS 5 and below, we are complying with the strike and until we hear from the national body, the strike will persist.”


Resident doctors in Katsina State also joined their colleagues in the nationwide strike at the FMC and General hospital, Katsina.


The ARD President, Federal Teaching Hospital, Gombe, Dr Daniel Apollos, described the situation as unfortunate and urged the Federal Government to do the right thing.


The ARD Chairman, Obafemi Awolowo University Teaching Hospital, Ile Ife branch, Dr Simeon Kusoro, told newsmen that total compliance was recorded in the hospital, adding that the hospital was “almost empty.”


The ARD President in Cross River, Dr Godwin Udoh, revealed the strike was “total and indefinite.” Consultants, however, continued to attend to patients at the University of Calabar Teaching Hospital.


The resident doctors at the University College Hospital, Ibadan, Oyo State also complied fully with the directive, saying consultant physicians were still at work attending to critical cases.


The Public Relations Officer, UCH, Mr Toye Akinrinlola, said, “All our emergency areas – accident and emergency, intensive care unit, children emergency and antenatal – are all working.


“The consultants, nurses, medical laboratory experts, pharmacists and other categories of medical personnel are at their duty posts. The management has been proactive.”


The Nasarawa State chapter of the association also joined the nationwide strike declared by its national body, according to its President, Dr Moses Joshua.

In Kaduna, activities at the Ahmadu Bello University Teaching Hospital, Zaria; Federal Neuropsychiatric Hospital, National Eye Centre, National Ear Care Centre were paralysed as a result of the strike.


According to the President of NARD at the National Ear Care Centre, Dr Magaji Auwal, “the hospital is on an indefinite strike as directed by the association.”


But resident doctors on the state government’s payroll were not affected as they were seen carrying out their normal activities unhindered.


The ARD Chairman, Kaduna State, Dr Umar Ikara, told one of our correspondents that its members declined to join the strike, saying their challenges were different from those of the national level of NARD.


Ikara said, “We held (a) meeting with our congress members and they were sceptical about joining the national strike, so we have reported the decision of our congress to the national body. Our members are not on strike.”


The University of Uyo Teaching hospital, Uyo, Akwa Ibom State is running emergency services only following the nationwide strike by resident doctors in Nigeria


Patients scramble for private hospitals

The son of a patient at the Accident and Emergency Unit in UBTH, Mr Charles Benjamin, lamented the hardship on his father occasioned by the strike.


Benjamin, who stated that his father was billed to undergo two surgical operations on Friday, said the senior citizen was in “severe pain.”


A member of staff of the hospital, who preferred anonymity, said many patients had been discharged since Wednesday before the strike commenced, adding that only patients with serious conditions were being attended to by consultants in the hospital.


Many relatives of patients at the hospital were seen in groups lamenting the situation brought by the strike.


The father of a patient in the paediatrics unit of FMC Jalingo, Mr Musa Garba, told one of our correspondents that he had to move his daughter out of the hospital because only nurses were attending to patients.


Another patient, Mrs Eunice Ande, said she was considering leaving the hospital because mostly nurses were attending to her.


Mrs Linda Tanko of Donga Local Government Area of Taraba told newmen that she had to move her mother out of the State Specialist Hospital, Jalingo to a private hospital in the town because she could not get the attention of doctors.



Miss Charity Pius also told one of our correspondents that her father had not been attended to at FMC Jalingo for several hours, adding that she was contemplating moving him to a private hospital.


Checks at the Barau Dikko Specialists Hospital and Yusuf Dantsoho Hospital, Kaduna, showed that doctors were attending to patients. At the National Ear Care Centre, Kaduna, some doctors were carrying out skeletal services.

However, patients were being attended to in the clinics and emergency areas at the UCH, Oyo, though those who came for routine check-ups and some new cases were not welcomed.


The emergency units in the hospital were still active as new patients were being admitted just as old patients were also being fully attended to.


Blame Ngige for deaths, doctors tell Nigerians


The resident doctors, however, asked Nigerians to hold the Minister of Labour and Employment, Dr Chris Ngige, responsible for the loss of lives that might be recorded while the strike persists.


NARD made its position known in a series of tweets via its verified handle @nard_nigeria, on Friday.


“The minister @LabourMinNG should be held responsible for the lives that will be lost from the industrial dispute,” one of the tweets read.


The resident doctors noted that Ngige, a medical doctor, quit medicine for politics, and asked why the minister did not go into clinical medicine and remain impoverished.


The striking resident doctors also faulted the President, Major General Muhammadu Buhari (retd.), for travelling to London for a routine medical check-up.


Other tweets read, “Mr Labour Minister @LabourMinNG, it’s a shame the President @MBuhari is going to England for a second opinion on routine medical check-up and the Nigerian masses are dying.


“Mr Labour Minister @LabourMinNG, what’s the clinical correlation between @Fmohnigeria and the ministry of environment as you said sanitation is part of the health budget?


“For clarity, no professor of medicine earns his wardrobe allowance @LabourMinNG. @nard_nigeria has listened carefully to the labour minister @LabourMinNG… we aren’t perturbed.


“We maintain our stand that nothing has been done. Health workers’ lives matter. We are tired of paperwork, implement your papers @LabourMinNG.”



Recall that Ngige stated on Thursday that the resident doctors acted in bad faith by proceeding on strike after an agreement the Federal Government signed with the association’s leadership earlier in the day.


The minister had threatened that if by the weekend the resident doctors remained adamant, their fate would be decided based on extant labour laws.


Nigige had said the government was surprised that the resident doctors could still proceed on their strike after agreements were reached on all their demands.