Onyebuchi Ezigbo in Abuja
The Nigerian Association of Resident Doctors (NARD) at the weekend explained that it suspended the 17-day-old nationwide strike it embarked upon on July 26, 2023, due to the significant moves made by the federal government to address the doctors’ demands.
Speaking with THISDAY yesterday, the President of NARD, Dr. Emeka Orji, said the National Executive Council (NEC) of NARD decided to suspend the strike since the government had started addressing some of their issues.
“We had a meeting at the villa and with the Senate President, Godswill Akpabio, on Tuesday and we see that they are willing to meet our demands, and for the interest of the people and the country, we have to suspend the strike.
“For now, the government has released the 2023 Medical Residency Training Fund, and has started work on the circular on one-for-one replacement because they sent a letter to the Chief Medical Directors to prov
ide some documents, and some CMDs have sent the documents required, so we hope that the one-for-one replacement of doctors will take effect soon.
“The circular on one-for-one replacement would address the manpower shortage and hopefully, this will take effect in the next two weeks.”
THISDAY reports that members of NARD suspended its indefinite strike on Friday night after the NEC deliberated on their demands and the efforts the government is making to meet them.
Thereafter, the union directed the doctors to resume yesterday, by 8 am, while they would review the progress made in two weeks.
The members of NARD embarked on industrial action on 26 July following the failure of the Nigerian government to meet their demands.
The doctors are demanding, among other issues, the immediate payment of the 2023 Medical Residency Training Fund (MRTF), tangible steps on the “upward review” of the Consolidated Medical Salary Structure (CONMESS), and payment of all salary arrears owed its members since 2015.
The doctors also want the immediate massive recruitment of clinical staff in the hospitals and the abolishment of the bureaucratic limitations to the immediate replacement of doctors and nurses who leave the system.
They also want the immediate review of hazard allowance by all the state governments as well as private tertiary health institutions where any form of residency training is done.
The resident doctors comprise the bulk of medical personnel in Nigeria’s tertiary hospitals; hence health activities are mostly crippled when they are on strike.
Orji had earlier told THISDAY that the release of the circular for one-for-one replacement of clinical staff, and the payment of the 2023 Medical Residency Training Fund were the minimum conditions the government should fulfill for them to suspend the indefinite strike.