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Deadlock as doctors continue strike

There seems to be an impasse in the Federal Government negotiations with the National Association of Resident Doctors (NARD) to call off their industrial action.

The NARD which began its indefinite strike on June 15 stressed that as long as the Federal Government does not put down a concrete commitment on their sundry demands, the strike would continue indefinitely.

It decried the grossly inadequate personal protective equipment (PPEs) for its members, especially those in the frontline of the COVID-19 pandemic at the states and federal levels.

It also lamented the failure of the government to honour the memorandum of terms for settlement of arrears for its doctors from 2014 to 2016.

The association noted that the COVID-19 hazard inducement allowances and life insurance for healthcare workers had still not been paid as its members were yet to receive same.

It said the government was insincere in its promises, and unequivocally stated that unless the government signs an agreement on its promises and supplies significant amount of PPEs to its members, the strike would continue.

Speaking on Friday during a television programme, the First Vice President of NARD, Dr. Julian Ojebu, said: “We have had several talks with both the Ministry of Health and the Chairman of the Nigeria Governors’ Forum (NGF) to also tell him about the problems that have been bedeviling the health sector in relation to states’ tertiary institutions.

“We have made it clear that most of our demands are not about remunerations. Most of our demands are about the dilapidated health system – personal protective equipment (PPEs) that are not available in our state tertiary health institutions and the infrastructural decay.

“We had quite an elaborate discussion with the chairman of the NGF and also with the Governor of Oyo State in attendance.

“We are still at the level of promises and we are hopeful that in no distant time, these promises will really materialise into something that is tangible enough for us to use and get back to work as quick as possible.”

FG releases N4.5bn to settle doctors’ allowances, arrears

Succour came yesterday for doctors in 31 federal teaching and specialist hospitals across the country following the release of N4.5 billion by the federal government to clear the backlog of their hazard and inducement allowances.

Efforts are being made to open discussions with the state governors for doctors in state owned hospitals.

Members of the National Association of Resident Doctors (NARD) are currently on strike to press home their demand for the settlement of their unpaid salaries and hazard allowances as well as adequate provision of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE), among other reasons.

The doctors are at the forefront of the ongoing battle against coronavirus.

Labour and Employment Minister Chris Ngige told State House reporters after a meeting with President Muhammadu Buhari yesterday that the funds would cover the months of April and May.

Ngige, with who were Health Minister Osagie Ehanire and the Minister of State for Labour and Employment, Mr Festus Keyamo (SAN), also said the meeting with the President discussed the developments with the ongoing industrial action embarked upon by resident doctors.

He said: “Just this morning, before we went to see Mr President, the Ministry of Finance reported that as at this morning, 3 am, they had paid the allowances for hazard and inducement to 31 teaching and federal medical centres and special hospitals of the federal government service, and they had expended close to N4.5 billion in the payment because we are paying them the arrears of April and May.

“The payment for June will also be done immediately these ones are sorted out.

“Again, it is important to report to you that in consonance with what he is saying, we have arranged a meeting for them to speak to the Nigerian Governors’ Forum, because you don’t mix apples and oranges.

“The issue of health is on the concurrent list, so the federal government will do its own and the state governments will be expected to do their own. Some of their grievances border on what they feel the state governments have not done.”

The Minister appealed to members of the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) to embrace the Integrated Personnel and Payroll Information System (IPPIS), pending the resolution of all the issues surrounding the University Transparency, Accountability Solution (UTAS).

He said the lecturers could migrate to UTAS just as they were moving into the Nigerian University Pension Management Company (NUPEMCO) after it was granted license by the National Pension Commission (PenCom).

Medical, dental consultants admit fewer patients

Members of Medical and Dental Consultants Association of Nigeria (MDCAN) say they cannot guarantee optimal services because of the ongoing strike by the National Association of Resident Doctors (NARD).

The Nnamdi Azikiwe University Teaching Hospital (NAUTH) chapter of the MDCAN, in a circular yesterday directed its members to scale down the admission of new patients.

The circular entitled “Re: Current NARD Strike: MDCAN-NAUTH Exco Resolutions” and signed by Dr Anthony Ugezu and Dr Chinedu Ilokanuno, the association’s Chairman and Secretary respectively, said the absence of resident doctors had resulted in acute shortage of manpower.

They acknowledged that the ongoing withdrawal of services by resident doctors followed due process, adding that it was in the overall interest of the Nigerian health workers.

The association, therefore, called for urgent resolution of the issues that were raised.

It said that the hospital’s Accident and Emergency department would be opened to provide basic resuscitation and first aid services by the available principal medical officers before referral to any functional specialist facility for continued care.

The leadership of MDCAN explained that its members were not on strike but could only render skeletal services within the realistic safety margin possible under the prevailing circumstance.

“Services being rendered are not in any way targeted at frustrating the ongoing action but to provide some level of succour to our patients while it lasts”.

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