Frantic efforts were being made last night to avert a disruption of the health sector by members of the National Association of Resident Doctors (NARD), who have scheduled a nationwide strike to begin tomorrow.
The 60-day ultimatum served by NARD to press home its demands expires today.
The doctors listed four demands that must be met by the Federal Government to shelve their planned action.
NARD President Dr. Uyilawa Okhuaihesuyi confirmed slated meetings with Labour and Employment Minister Dr. Chris Ngige and the Senate Committee on Health.
The conditions are: full payment of salaries of all House Officers and Residents on the GIFMIS platform; upward review of hazard allowance from N5, 000 to 50 per cent of consolidated basic salaries of all health workers and the immediate payment of 2019, balance of 2020 and 2021 Medical Residency Training Funds (MRTF).
The doctors also demanded the issuance of vouchers to the families and loved ones of doctors who lost their lives in service, especially those on the frontline of the battle against the COVID-19 pandemic and other infectious diseases.
According to Okhuaihesuyi, the listed conditions “are considered prime among other demands”.
Confirming the moves by stakeholders to avert the strike, he said: “I was called by the Minister of Labour, Chris Ngige, and we will have a meeting with him tomorrow (today) by 3pm. I was in a meeting with the House of Representatives Committee on Healthcare Chairman Tanko Sununu yesterday (Monday).
“We will also have a meeting with the Senate Committee on Health tomorrow by 11am. We look forward to seeing them and we are hopeful that we can get some of our demands.
The Labour and Employment minister also confirmed today’s meeting with NARD’s leadership at his ministry’s Conference Room.
Ngige said his team would hold a separate meeting with the Federal Ministry of Health and the Medical and Dental Council of Nigeria before the meeting with the NARD.
The resident doctors resolved to commence “a total and indefinite strike” by 8am on April 1 if the government failed to accede to its demands.
They took the position at the Extraordinary National Executive Council meeting on March 27 at the Trauma Centre of the National Hospital Abuja to review its earlier ultimatum and deliberate on burning issues affecting residency training, healthcare delivery and the welfare.
The communique of the NEC attended by over 50 chapters of the association was signed by Okhuaihesuyi; NARD’s Secretary-General Dr. Jerry Isogun and Publicity/Social Secretary, Dr. Dotun Osikoya.