DOCTORS under the aegis of the National Association of Resident Doctors of Nigeria (NARD) will resume their suspended nationwide strike on August 2, the body said on Saturday.
NARD conveyed its decision to resume the strike in a communique signed by its president and secretary-general Uyilawa Okhuaihesuyi and Jerry Isogun, respectively.
NARD issued the communique after its National Executive Council (NEC) meeting, which ended in Umuahia, Abia State, on Saturday.
The association based its decision to resume strike on the failure of the Federal Government to honour the agreement it reached with the doctors before they suspended the earlier strike on April 11.
“After critical appraisal of the performance of both federal and state governments on all the issues affecting the welfare of our members and the insincerity of government in implementing the memorandum of action after One Hundred and Thirteen (113) days, the NEC unanimously resolved by vote to resume the total and indefinite strike action from 08.00hrs Monday, August 2, 2021,” part of the communique read.
At the outset of the current crisis in April, The ICIR had reported how the rift between the Medical Council of Nigeria and chief executives of some hospitals led to non-payment of the doctors’ salaries for three months in at least 19 tertiary hospitals in the country.
The crisis began with the collapse of Okorie Venatus at the University of Port Harcourt Teaching Hospital in Rivers state in early April.
Venatus was among those owed by the Federal Government.
He collapsed after allegedly working for 72-hours without a break.
The incident and related issues the doctors recorded pushed NARD to confront the government and eventually downed tools.
The association suspended the strike following government intervention led by Minister of Labour and Employment Chris Ngige, leading to signing a Memorandum of Understanding between the parties.
In its Saturday’s communique, NARD said the government failed to fulfil its promise to migrate its members from the GIFMIS to the IPPIS platform. It said its members were still stuck on the GIFMIS platform, which it claimed was laced with payment irregularities.
NARD decried the “undue hardship” its members on the GIFMIS platform face due to the delays in payment of their salaries ranging from three to seven months.
“The NEC noted with grievous concerns the circular from the Head of Service of the Federation removing House Officers from the scheme of service and the consequent implementation by the Lagos state government.
“They also observed that some House Officers are still being owed one to two months salaries.
“The NEC noted that bench fee for outside postings by resident doctors had been abolished. However, some chief medical directors have renamed the bench fee as training fee causing hardship on her members.”
According to the group, the list of affected institutions for the payment of the national consequential adjustment has been forwarded to the Federal Ministry of Health, but the ministry has not acted on it.
NARD, however, commended the efforts made so far with the payment of death-in-service insurance benefits to the next of kin of its members and other healthcare workers.
But it expressed sadness with how some states, namely Abia, Imo and Ondo allegedly owe its members between 19 and four months salary arrears.
The group also expressed worry over the alleged poor response of most state governments in domesticating the Medical Residency Training Act of 2017, while it commended Delta and Benue states which it said had adopted the law.
NARD decried ‘acute’ manpower shortage in most tertiary health institutions and the attendant burnout effects on its members.
According to the association, the challenge is made worse by the ongoing ‘deadly brain drain decimating the nation’s health care system.’
It further alleged that despite several meetings with the Presidential Committee on Salaries and other top government stakeholders on the review of hazard allowance for health workers, the hazard allowance remained a paltry sum of five thousand Naira.
The group also demanded immediate withdrawal of the circular removing house officers from the scheme of service.”