Patients were left groaning at teaching hospitals across the country on Thursday, the first day of the indefinite strike called by Resident doctors.
Activities were paralysed at tertiary hospitals in Ibadan, Kaduna, Jos, Ado-Ekiti, Bauchi and Asaba, among others.
Last ditch efforts by Minister of Labour and Employment Chris Ngige, himself a medical doctor, to stave off the strike failed.
Although a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) was signed after a long meeting between the government team, which Ngige led, and leaders of the Resident Doctors association, the doctors rejected the overture to call off the strike to allow implementation of the MoU.
“The strike continues”, President of National Association of Resident Doctors (NARD) Dr. Uyilawa Okhuaihesuyi, said last night after the National Executive Committee (NEC) meeting, which reviewed the MoU and the parley with the government team.
Dr Okhuaihesuyi said, “The House Officers and Resident Doctors have not been paid.
Concerning the hazard allowance and the insurance, we have been told to wait till five weeks. Those timelines are not acceptable to us.
“We have had such waiting games and promises before – one, two, and over three years ago – so it is not unusual. We have signed so many MoUs for over a decade now, and we are still fighting for the same things. A responsible government will not do that. They need to wake up to their responsibilities.
“Therefore, the strike continues and compliance across the country is 100 per cent.”
Resident doctors are demanding improved welfare and working conditions.
The NARD is also asking for immediate payment of salaries owed to House Officers and last month salaries. They also want an upward review of the hazard allowance to 50 per cent of consolidated basic salaries and payment of outstanding COVID-19 inducement allowance.
Dr. Ngige expressed optimistic that the government would fulfill its part in the MoU and urged the doctors to call off the strike, but they remained adamant.