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Nigeria: Resident Doctors Call off Strike after Demands for Better Working Condition

The doctors in Nigerian state-run hospitals have called off a weeklong strike. The strike action force hospitals to break for treatment of patients across the West African nation.

The doctors’ union said its National Executive Council resolved to suspend the ongoing strike with effect from effect from Monday, June 22, 2020 by 8 a.m., according to the communique read to journalists by Dr Aliyu Sokomba, President of the group, on Sunday in Abuja after its National Executive Council meeting, according to the communique read to journalists by Dr Aliyu Sokomba, President of the group, on Sunday in Abuja after its National Executive Council meeting.

It said the decision to suspend the strike was taken in order to give the federal and state governments time to fulfil the outstanding demands following an appeal by the Speaker of the House of Representative, Femi Gbajabiamila, Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Boss Mustapha, chairman of the Nigerian Governors Forum and other stakeholders.

The association, however, said its national officials “shall continue negotiations with stakeholders and progress made shall be reviewed in four weeks during the next National Executive Council meeting in July.”

The National Association of Resident Doctors of Nigeria on June 15 commenced a nationwide strike after the expiration of a 14-day ultimatum; following the failure of the government to pay salaries, non-payment of hazard allowance, and a dearth of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) in hospitals, among several other reasons.

The association also advocated the provision of funding for Medical Residency Training in the 2021 Appropriations bill, as well as payment of all arrears, owed its members in the federal and state tertiary health institutions, arising from the consequent adjustment of the National minimum wage.

The association said it decided to suspend the strike because some of its demands have been met by the government.

The president of the association, Aliyu Sokomba, said the decision to return to work was made by over 300 members of its association across the country.

Mr Sokomba said the government has provided PPE to some hospitals.

He said the government would need to keep restocking the PPEs as they are consumables and non-reusable.

Since, the outbreak of Covid-19 in Nigeria, over 800 healthcare workers have been infected by the virus, according to the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control.

On the other demands which focused on improving general welfare and protesting dismissals or pay cuts for doctors in two regions, Mr Sokomba said the secretary to the federal government, Boss Mustapha, has promised to intervene.

The federal government last Friday said it had released N4.5 billion to 31 federal teaching and medical centres across the country, an official has said.

Labour minister Chris Ngige said the payment which covers hazard and inducement allowances for April and May was made with the expectation that it would ameliorate the plight of resident doctors across the country who went on strike on Monday over unpaid salaries and allowances.

Ngige said that the government had already started paying the doctors treating COVID-19 patients the hazard allowance.

He said the payment of the N4.5 billing was made “just this morning”.

“Just this morning, before we went to see Mr President, the Ministry of Finance reported that as at this morning, 3 a.m., they have paid the allowances for hazard and inducement to 31 teaching and Federal Medical Centres and specialist hospitals of the federal government service and they have expended close to N4.5 billion in the payment because, we are paying them the arrears of April and May. The payment for June will also be done immediately these ones are sorted out.”

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