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Don’t destabilise Nigeria, embrace dialogue, FG tells striking doctors

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[FILES] Doctors. PHOTO: Getty Images

Pays N9.3b for insurance covers, death benefits

The National Association of Resident Doctors (NARD) has been urged not to allow itself to be used as an agent of destabilisation in Nigeria’s health sector.

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Minister of Health, Dr. Osagie Ehanire, who made the call following the ongoing nationwide strike by the medics, yesterday, in Abuja, noted that dialogue remained the best approach to conflict resolution, adding that the Federal Government has been prompt in attending to labour issues revolving around the sector.

He said the demands of the medical professionals had been extensively discussed by all parties with the implementation of resolutions adopted by relevant bodies, led by the Ministries of Health and Labour and Employment.

Stating that since health is an item on the residual legislative list, Ehanire submitted that NARD had been advised to also meet with state governments to resolve matters of specific concern.

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On continuing negotiations for review of hazard allowance, the minister said the current administration had earmarked a lump sum for its settlement once the Nigerian Medical Association (NMA) and Joint Health Sector Unions (JOHESU) reached a compromise.

He, therefore, advised NARD to work with NMA for payment instead of blaming the government.

Maintaining that the Federal Government has so far paid N9.3 billion to insurance companies for group life policies and death benefits, Ehanire added that the President Muhammadu Buhari administration was working to pay the balance of the COVID-19 hazard allowance, even as he sued for understanding.

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According to him, the ministry is in receipt of 131 cheques totalling N159, 233,234 from various insurance companies for 46 NARD members across 52 health facilities for group life insurance, with additional 95 cheques being processed from the insurers under due diligence.

“Submissions from the hospitals where some deceased resident doctors worked did not have complete documents (such as the last payslip for claim payment, etc).”

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This was communicated to NARD representatives at the meeting convened by the Federal Ministry of Labour and Employment on July 22, 2021. NARD was advised to follow up their submissions from the hospitals where the deceased members worked,” he clarified.

The minister continued: “It is just as urgent to correct attempts at misinformation and disinformation of the public concerning the strike embarked upon by NARD members on August 2, 2021. The Federal Government has always proactively engaged NARD to seek solutions to their complaints, and I can in this regard, comfortably state that of the 12 resolutions of NARD’s National Executive Council (NEC) meeting of June 25, 2021, that were submitted to us, only five issues are related to the Federal Government, while Resolutions six to 12 are actually employers/employee issues to be resolved at individual state government level, at which the Federal Ministry of Health has no jurisdiction, and as such, do not merit nationwide industrial action.”

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