NMA, resident doctors divided over strike
• Meet today to resolve lingering issues
• More hospitals join, others shun industrial action
The parent body of all medical doctors in the country, the Nigerian Medical Association (NMA), is not happy with the ongoing strike by the National Association of Resident Doctors (NARD).Resident doctors are postgraduate doctors attached to specialist centres such as teaching and general hospitals with a view to becoming consultants in specific fields after training under consultants. They constitute most of the doctors on ground in public hospitals. They are often called trainee doctors or doctors-in-training.
The resident doctors on Monday began an indefinite strike nationwide to press home their demands. They want the payment of salary arrears, resolution of stagnated promotion and halt to alleged diversion of funds meant for them by chief medical directors (CMDs).
The Guardian investigation revealed that there is misunderstanding between the leadership of the NMA and the NARD over the “unauthorised” industrial action. It was also learnt that a meeting has been fixed between the executives of both bodies to resolve the strike.
Meanwhile, as some hospitals join the strike, others are shunning it. When The Guardian visited the Lagos University Hospital (LUTH) Idi-Araba, yesterday, some of the resident doctors were seen attending to patients. But the situation was different at the National Orthopaedic Hospital, Igbobi where there was full compliance with the industrial action by the resident doctors who where not at their duty posts.
The President of the Association of Resident Doctors in the hospital, Dr. Ige Olajide, said his colleagues were angry and had refused to go contrary to the directives of the national body. He said the doctors were like ‘wounded lions’ who, if forced to return to work, would not render the desired services to patients.
At other government hospitals, activities were normal, as consultant doctors were treating patients. The management of the University of Ilorin Teaching Hospital (UITH) yesterday promised uninterrupted medical services despite the strike. The Head, Corporate Affairs Unit of the hospital, Mrs. Olufunmilayo Omojasola yesterday said that at an emergency meeting presided over by the Chief Medical Director (CMD), Prof. Abdulwaheed Olatinwo, the management lamented the recurrence of the strike by this category of doctors across the nation.
Underlining the importance of the ‘Hippocratic Oath’ to all categories of doctors at their induction ceremony, the UITH management said it would ensure quality services to all the patients of the hospital “as if there was no strike.”Many relatives of the patients at UITH interviewed expressed ignorance of the strike. Aminat Makun, a female relation of an orthopedic patient from Edu Local Government Area (LGA) of Kwara State said: “Strike? Are you sure of your question? But we saw doctors just now attending to patients in the ward. So, what do you mean by strike.”
Resident doctors at the Federal Medical Centre (FMC), Abeokuta, Ogun State yesterday declared that they had fully joined the strike.When The Guardian visited the hospital yesterday, some of the patients were being attended to by consultants and graduate doctors who are members of the National Youth Service Corps (NYSC). The president of ARD in the hospital, Dr. Taiwo Babajide said: “The level of complaint with the directive of NARD here is 100 percent and we have decided to stay in line with our parent body.”
At the Federal Medical Centre (FMC) Asaba, State General Hospital, Okwe, Asaba including the Delta State University Teaching Hospital (DELSUTH) medical services were yesterday grounded despite efforts by their managements to save the situation. Patients were seen moving round the hospitals’ premises with little or no attention from the doctors. Although the hospitals’ managements attributed the situation to the fresh resumption from sallah holidays, the Delta State President of NARD, Dr. Uwugiaren Nosakhare, said the national body of the association directed them to proceed on an indefinite strike.
The President of the NMA, Dr. Mike Ogirima and his Pharmaceutical Society of Nigeria (PSN) counterpart, Ahmed Yakasai, had told The Guardian on June 7, 2017, that there would no longer be an industrial action by doctors in Nigeria, especially the resident doctors, except when it is inevitable or approved by the relevant association.
Efforts by The Guardian to get fresh reactions from the NMA president and NARD President, Dr. Onyebueze John, were unsuccessful as they did not pick their calls when contacted.NARD had last week met with the Minister of Labour and Employment, Senator Chris Ngige and the Minister of Health, Prof. Isaac Adewole where government made some offers to them, which they rejected.
The Chief Medical Director of LUTH, Prof. Chris Bode, yesterday appealed to NARD and the Federal Government to consider the health of patients and reach a compromise. Bode told The Guardian that further delay in reaching an agreement would paralyse activities in the hospital, leading to total or partial shutdown and many critical medical conditions would deteriorate leading to massive deaths in the country.
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