The Nigerian Association of Resident Doctors (NARD) has announced plans to commence a daily peaceful protest in the coming week if the federal government fails to meet its demand.
This is despite a directive by the Nigerian government to the management of federal tertiary hospitals to commence the enforcement of the “no work, no pay” policy against the striking doctors.
This policy means that the doctors who continue to stay away from their duty posts will not receive their regular salaries while the strike lasts.
In a letter dated 1 August, the government instructed the hospitals to implement the ‘no work, no pay’ policy and also keep an attendance register for resident doctors who are willing to continue working despite the strike.
“I am directed to inform you that the Federal Ministry of Health has instituted the policy of “No work, No Pay” against the striking resident doctors in line with circular Ref. No.58598/8.1/II/182 dated June 22, 2016,” the letter reads in part.
“I am further directed to request you to maintain an attendance register for all residents willing to work and furnish the ministry of such names on a monthly basis.”
The striking doctors, however, said they are unmoved by the government’s decision and promised to escalate the strike next week.
The association, in a circular titled; “Notice of Nationwide Mass Protests and Picketing by NARD,” said the protest will commence Wednesday, 9 August.
NARD said it will be picketing the Federal Ministry of Health, the Office of the Head of Civil Service of the Federation, and the federal and state tertiary health institutions in the country.
It said the protest had become necessary to press home its demands which it noted have been largely neglected by the health ministry and the federal government.
“We wish to bring to your notice, the decision of the National Executive Council of NARD to embark on daily peaceful protests and picketing of the Federal Ministry of Health, Office of the Head of Civil Service of the Federation, as well as all federal and state tertiary health institutions nationwide, with effect from Wednesday, 9 August by 10 am,” it said.
“This has become necessary to press home our demands which have been largely neglected by our parent ministry and the federal government.”
It said rather than make genuine and concerted efforts to resolve the challenges that led to the industrial action, the government has chosen to “demonise” the doctors.
“We, therefore, resolved that it is time the whole world hears our side of the story – the decay and corruption in the health sector, as well as the neglect the public health institutions have suffered all these years that led to repeated industrial actions.”
The resident doctors embarked on an indefinite industrial action on 26 July following what they described as the failure of the Nigerian government to meet their demands.
The doctors are demanding, among other issues, the immediate payment of the 2023 Medical Residency Training Fund (MRTF), tangible steps on the “upward review” of the Consolidated Medical Salary Structure (CONMESS), and payment of all salary arrears owed its members since 2015.
The doctors also want the immediate massive recruitment of clinical staff in the hospitals and abolishment of the bureaucratic limitations to the immediate replacement of doctors and nurses who leave the system.
They also want the immediate review of hazard allowance by all the state governments as well as private tertiary health institutions where any form of residency training is done.
PREMIUM TIMES reported how the strike is disrupting health services in health facilities in Lagos and Abuja, Nigeria’s capital city.
The resident doctors comprise the bulk of medical personnel in Nigeria’s tertiary hospitals; hence health activities are mostly crippled when they are on strike.
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