By Faith Nyasuguta
Nigerian resident doctors have started an indefinite strike over delayed payment of salaries and lack of allowances in the wake of Covid-19, the doctors’ union has said.
Nigerian doctors working in public hospitals frequently strike over what they refer to as ‘poor working conditions and poor terms of service.’
In 2020, they walked out from their workplaces thrice.
Among their demands were allowances for treating Covid-19 patients.
“The strike started early Monday and the government has not reached out to the union since it gave notice of the job action,” Okhuaihesuyi Uyilawa, president of the National Association of Resident Doctors (NARD) said.
When questioned on whether the industrial action would Covid-19 vaccination, the president said, “Hunger is worse than COVID-19. We have lost 19 members to Covid-19, with no death-in-service insurance.”
According to the health ministry, it is engaging the striking doctors in a bid to resolve the issues quickly.
The health minister via a statement thus called on medical directors to ensure service delivery is uninterrupted.
Since last month, Africa’s most populous nation has seen a significant rise in Covid-19 cases and fatalities.
So far, some 174,315 cases and 2,149 deaths have been recorded in the wake of the pandemic, according to official data.
“Salary shortfalls stretching over months, failure to pay some doctors Covid-19 allowances, and shortages of manpower in hospitals are among the reasons that have pushed our members to strike,” NARD said In a Saturday statement.
However, the state of Lagos termed the doctors’ decision as hasty and called for restraint from NARD doctors in the state.
Resident doctors are medical school graduates training as specialists.
They are a significant lot among frontline health workers as they are often in the emergency wards of hospitals.
NARD currently represents some 16,000 resident doctors out of a total of 42,000 doctors in Nigeria.