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Government yields, okays N13.6b for docs’ insurance, hazard allowance

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•Medics suspend strike after mediation by govs, others
The Federal Government yesterday yielded to the demands of the National Association of Resident Doctors (NARD) by approving N9 billion for the group life insurance of all health workers and another N4,642,485,146 as special hazard allowance for the aggrieved employees in no fewer than 35 hospitals across the federation.

The medics had embarked on an industrial action on June 15,2020 at the expiration of their 14-day ultimatum to the President Muhammadu Buhari administration where they had tabled a six-point demand.

Addressing a media briefing in Abuja, the Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, alongside his Health and Labour and Productivity counterparts, Dr. Osagie Ehanire, and Dr. Chris Ngige, said government was concerned about the timing of the strike when all hands were on deck to defeat the ravaging COVID-19 pandemic.

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Mohammed, who read a prepared speech, listed the proposals of the doctors to include access to personal protective equipment (PPE) by all health workers, immediate reversal of the disengagement of 26 medics at the Jos University Teaching Hospital (JUTH), and the instant implementation of the COVID-19 special hazard inducement allowance.

Others are capturing of funding for medical residency training in the 2021 appropriation bill as well as payment of arrears of the consequential adjustments to the national minimum wage to members and execution of same in state tertiary health institutions.

The doctors had also requested state governments that slashed their salaries by as much as 25 per cent to halt the exercise and refund the balance.

Suspending the strike after a virtual extraordinary National Executive Council (NEC) meeting of the association in Abuja, NARD President, Dr. Aliyu Sokomba, pointed out that the move was to afford the federal and state governments more time to fulfill the outstanding demands after appeals by the Speaker of the House of Representative, Femi Gbajabiamila, Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Boss Mustapha, Chairman of the Nigeria Governors’ Forum (NGF), Dr. Kayode Fayemi, and other relevant stakeholders.

He clarified: “The national officers shall continue negotiations with stakeholders and progress made shall be reviewed in four weeks during the next National Executive Council meeting in July 2020.

“They (government) have not settled us. The only thing they did is to pay hazard allowance to 11 out of 52 federal health institutions. They have only paid for April and May leaving out March when the promise was made.”

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