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Nigerian government has not contacted us – Striking doctors

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THE strike embarked upon by the National Association of Resident Doctors of Nigeria (NARD) has continued to second day because the government not reached out to the doctors.

NARD President Uyilawa Okhuaihesuyi told The ICIR the government is yet to open communication channel with the association two days after the strike began. 

He also said compliance by doctors under NARD to the strike was total across all public hospitals in the country.

The strike came amidst the third wave of COVID-19 in the country.

Our reporter visited the Maitama General Hospital and the National Hospital in Abuja and saw stranded patients, many of who returned home because they could not receive medical attention.

Though hospital staff were rendering staff, they were few.

“I have been here with my mother since morning to treat her for typhoid. One of the senior doctors on duty came and told us that we should exercise patience. 

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“He promised that the hospital would attend to us. But for nearly two hours now, we have been waiting,” Gloria Akaeze at the National Hospital told The ICIR.

Also, at the Maitama Hospital, a disabled Musa Duniya who came to treat cough could not receive care at the facility because of the strike.

“There are many people here. I cannot wait because it may take three to get to my turn,” he said.

Only consultant doctors were on the ground to provide services at the hospital.

The ICIR observed that NARD has embarked on strike each time President Muhammadu Buhari had travelled out of Nigeria for treatment this year.

Buhari jetted out of Nigeria to London on March 30, two days after the doctors had vowed to down tools over unmet demands.

The doctors made good their threat and embarked on a nationwide strike on April 1. 

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The strike lasted for a week after NARD reached an agreement with the government.

This time, Buhari returned to London on July 26 for a medical check-up and participated at the Global Education Summit on Financing Global Partnership for Education (GPE) 2021-2025.

NARD downed tools again on August 1, while the president is receiving treatment in the UK hospital.

But Okhuaihesuyi said the incidents were a mere coincidence.

He said the government should show commitment to the welfare of health care practitioners to enable them to offer the best care to their patients. 

Meanwhile, the Public Relations Officer of National Hospital Tayo Hastrupp told The ICIR that the hospital had remained open to the public, despite the strike.

“The strike has been on since Monday. We have our consultants. We have house officers, that is, corper doctors.

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“The management has resolved that the hospital would not be closed down. We are accepting emergencies; we are accepting patients here. We accept patients also at the Trauma Centre. 

“Our labs are functioning very well. The consultants will be attending to their patients. It is only the resident doctors that will not be around.”

Hastrupp told the reporter that the resident doctors are the majority of medical practitioners at the hospital.

“NARD members are the chunk of health care providers at the National Hospital,” he stated. 

Meanwhile, NARD President in Lagos State Hassan Oluwafemi said incessant strike actions were becoming embarrassing to the doctors in the country. 

But he claimed it was “the only language that the government understands.”

The doctor said this when he appeared on Arise TV on Tuesday.

He added: “We’ve explored and found out that dialoguing, advocacy and discussions at meetings were not yielding results, which are essential to quality health care delivery in our country.”

He said the failure of the government to listen to doctors voices was the reason for the recurrent strike actions.

According to him, doctors would only have the capacity to deliver services when they have the basic things they need to cater for themselves and make service delivery possible.

Oluwafemi said resident doctors were supposed to stay within hospitals to deliver optimal services, but the government had failed to provide residential quarters for them.

“We need this project to be implemented. These are issues that affect us both at the state and the federal levels. We are willing to return to work; we were hesitant to embark on this because we know the patients bear this brunt. The government is to be blamed for this.”

He called on the government to respond to the doctors’ demands.

The ICIR had reported on Saturday that the doctors would embark on strike over unmet demands by the government. 

 

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