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Doctors may begin strike in June over non-payment of entitlements, harassment

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The Nigerian Association of Resident Doctors (NARD) has threatened to begin strike action on June 14, 2020, if the Federal Government did not meet its demands, which include payment of entitlements and stoppage of harassment of members by security operatives.
 
NARD in a communiqué issued at the end of its virtual 40th ordinary general meeting and scientific conference at Abubakar Tafawa Balewa University Teaching Hospital, Bauchi State, yesterday, with the theme: “Health inequalities and social determinants of Health in Nigeria,” decried the perpetual lack of personnel protective equipment for health workers in tertiary teaching hospitals, with the attendant increase in risk of COVID-19 infection.
   
The communiqué was signed by the President, NARD, Dr. Aliyu Sokomba and the Publicity Secretary, Dr. Stanley Ogbogu. The resident doctors noted with dismay the failure of some Chief Medical Directors and medical directors to implement the Medical Residency training Act.
   
They also observed the illegal disengagement of 26 resident doctors at Jos University Teaching Hospital during the Coronavirus pandemic without recourse to the law governing Residency training, non-implementation of the revised hazard allowance, the non-procurement of life insurance, non-payment of the death benefit claim and COVID-19 inducement allowance of doctors in various health institutions.

   
The body equally observed the non-payment of arrears of consequential adjustment of new minimum wage to some members. The Association noted with concern the incessant harassment and assault of members by security agents, while on duty, particularly in Lagos and Delta states, as well as Abuja, just as it observed the slashing of salaries of members in state tertiary health institutions, with particular reference to Kaduna State government that cut health workers’ salaries by 25 percent.
   
Similarly, NARD observed the non-implementation of revised Consolidated Medical Salary Scheme (CONMESS) and arrears by some state governments in state tertiary teaching hospitals; shortage of medical staff, especially resident doctors in most health institutions across the country.
   
Calling on federal and state governments to provide adequate personnel protective equipment, such as N95 respirators and gloves, among others, to all health workers, the Association demanded immediate recall of the sacked resident doctors at Jos University Teaching Hospital and payments of their salaries.

Other demands include universal implementation of the Residency Training Act in both Federal and State teaching hospitals; immediate implementation of the revised hazard allowance, as well as payment of COVID-19 inducement allowance. 
   
The association said urgent steps should be taken to ensure that the fate of its members at state tertiary health institutions is improved through engagement with various state governments and relevant stakeholders.
   
The resident doctors enjoined the Federal Government through the National Assembly to ensure full capture of the Residency training funding in the 2021 Appropriation Bill and payment of arrears of the consequential adjustment of the new minimum wage, among others.
   
“The Association is hereby issuing a 14-day ultimatum to the government, after which it shall proceed on a national, total and indefinite strike action, should our demands remain unmet at the end of the 14 days,” NARD said.


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