Resident doctors begin indefinite nationwide strike
The Nigerian Association of Resident Doctors (NARD) has declared an indefinite nationwide strike, starting from midnight of Tuesday.
The strike follows the lethargic disposition of the government towards some critical demands of the resident doctors despite previous warnings and a five-day warning strike.
Some of the issues in contention between NARD and FG include; salary adjustments and the release of funds for medical residency training.
Dr Orji Emeka Innocent, the President of NARD who made this declaration during the National Executive Council meeting in Lagos noted that the move follows the association’s disappointment with the government’s sluggish response to their demands, despite issuing multiple ultimatums.
NARD has expressed its concerns about several key issues, which are yet to be adequately addressed by the authorities.
Among the primary demands are the immediate payment of the 2023 Medical Residency Training Fund (MRTF) and the release of the circular regarding one-for-one replacement.
The association also called for the payment of skipping arrears and an upward review of CONMESS (Consolidated Medical Salary Structure) to restore salaries to their 2014 value.
Earlier, the association had convened a virtual extraordinary National Executive Council (NEC) meeting, where they expressed their frustration with the government’s inaction.
Despite giving ample warning, including a five-day warning strike from May 17th to 21st of the same year, the authorities have not fulfilled their promises.
In a statement, NARD highlighted that the resolutions from a conciliatory meeting, chaired by the former Honourable Minister of Labour and Employment, had not been implemented even after seven weeks, surpassing the agreed time frames.
NARD’s demands cover various critical areas concerning the welfare of doctors and healthcare professionals.
Apart from the immediate payment of the 2023 Medical Residency Training Fund, the association is pressing for the prompt release of the circular pertaining to one-for-one replacement aimed at addressing staff shortages and to ensure the continuity of medical services.
Additionally, NARD is advocating for the payment of skipping arrears, which are long overdue. This adjustment is essential to recognize the dedication and expertise of experienced medical practitioners.
Another significant demand made by NARD is for the upward review of CONMESS to restore salaries to their 2014 value. This according to the union will help alleviate the financial burdens faced by resident doctors and boost morale.
Moreover, NARD seeks the payment of arrears of consequential adjustment of minimum salaries to omitted doctors, ensuring equitable compensation for all healthcare workers.
Furthermore, the association is pushing for the reversal of the downgrading of membership certificates by the Medical and Dental Council of Nigeria (MDCN). Restoring these certificates is crucial to uphold the professional standing of doctors.
NARD also emphasizes the need for a new hazard allowance scheme, considering the increased risks healthcare workers face daily, especially in challenging circumstances like the COVID-19 pandemic.
Additionally, the association urges the implementation of corrected CONMESS in State Tertiary Health Institutions and the payment of omitted hazard allowance arrears.
These measures will improve working conditions and ensure fair compensation for medical professionals across various healthcare facilities in the country.
The indefinite nationwide strike has the potential to disrupt healthcare services across Nigeria as resident doctors play a critical role in providing medical care, their absence from the workforce may lead to delays in patient treatments and a burden on other medical personnel.
With an already strained healthcare system, the strike could exacerbate the challenges faced by patients seeking medical attention. This situation may affect vulnerable populations the most, including the elderly, children, and those with chronic illnesses.
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