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Strike drags as resident doctors deny signing MoU with government

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THe National Association of Resident  Doctors (NARD) has said that it is not part of the Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) signed by the Nigerian Medical Association (NMA) with the Federal Government on its behalf in Abuja on Saturday.

NARD President Uyilawa Okhuaihesuyi on Sunday told The ICIR that its group’s three-week-old strike would continue until the government acceded to its demands.

Asked if the NMA had the power to sign on NARD’s behalf in such a circumstance, Okhuaihesuyi said the NMA’s action would not be binding without NARD’s consent, though the NMA was NARD’s parent association.

NARD resumed the strike it suspended in April on August 2, following the government’s alleged refusal to honour an agreement with the group.

The failure of the government and NARD to resolve the impasse will further compound the woes of Nigerians facing traumatic experiences while attempting to receive care in public hospitals because of an acute shortage of doctors occasioned by the strike.

Apart from cholera which has killed at least 1,200 people in few months, death tolls from COVID-19 and other ailments have jumped.

The country parades some of the world’s worst health indices, and at least 90 per cent of its population pay out-of-pocket for health.

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Maternal and child mortality data in Nigeria are the highest globally.

On the directive of President Muhammadu Buhari, Minister of Labour and Employment Chris Ngige had on Friday convened a meeting with the NMA, NARD and other leading doctors’ unions in the country, namely the Medical and Dental Consultants Association of Nigeria (MDCAN), and Association of Medical Doctors in the Academics.

After a marathon meeting that dragged into Saturday, NMA signed an MoU with the government on behalf of NARD, but NARD’s president, who was at the meeting, shunned the MoU.

 Okhuaihesuyi told our reporter that he refused to sign the MoU because of the government’s stance on “no work, no pay.”

“I didn’t sign the MoU. They forced me, but I refused to sign,” Okhuaihesuyi told The ICIR on Sunday.

A statement issued by the government after the meeting showed that the government reached major agreements with NARD on its demands.

The ICIR reported how the government had vowed to sack the doctors for proceeding on strike.

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Buhari ordered Ngige to meet with the doctors after the government had dragged the practitioners to court.

Buhari’s directive came after the president had enjoyed medical treatment in London for days while the strike was on.

The president also relished the best medical care in London when NARD went on strike in April.

While the president was in London, Ngige had threatened to replace striking doctors with ad-hoc or local doctors.

But he did not explain what he meant by ad-hoc or local doctors, as the terms do not apply to orthodox medicine practice in Nigeria.

The minister had said heading to the court was one of the legal options for sacking the doctors.

Ngige, a medical doctor and a former senior official at the Federal Ministry of Health has faced strong criticisms from medical practitioners and other health workers over his stance on issues in the sector.

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In 2019, he came under attack after he had said the country had enough doctors, urging any of his colleagues that wanted to leave the country to go because, according to him, the nation had more doctors than it needed.

Subsequent findings, however, proved him wrong.

                                                                                                                                               

If you or someone you know has a lead, tip or personal experience about this report, our WhatsApp line is open and confidential for a conversation

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