The Federal Government has appealed to the National Association of Resident Doctors (NARD), to call off its ongoing indefinite strike.
The Permanent Secretary, Federal Ministry of Labour and Employment, Kachollom Daju, made the appeal at a news conference on Tuesday in Abuja.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that NARD embarked on an indefinite strike on 26 July, following the expiration of a two-week ultimatum it issued to the Federal Government to press home its demands.
The doctors’ demands include implementation of the one-for-one replacement policy for healthcare workers; Medical and Dental Council of Nigeria to discontinue the downgrading of the membership certificate issued by the West African Postgraduate Medical and Surgical Colleges.
Other demands are: the immediate payment of all salary arrears; the implementation of the Consolidated Medical Salary Structure; a new hazard allowance and the domestication of the Medical Residency Training Act; among others.
Daju urged the striking doctors to consider the lives of many Nigerians at stake and end the strike.
She said that the new administration and other relevant agencies were working round the clock to ensure that the contentious issues were addressed and the doctors’ demands met.
“We are using this medium to currently appeal to NARD that please, Nigerians are dying in troops. That is the truth, the health sector is a very important sector.
“Not that other sectors are not important, they are all important but we all know what medical doctors are to us. If you are ill today and you cannot go to a hospital, what happens?
“People are dying, people cannot care for themselves. So, I am begging them and I am lending my voice to the voice of all members of the government who have appealed to them, to please call off their strike and go back to work.
“I know that your parent ministry alongside other government agencies are working round the clock to ensure that this matter is sorted out,”she said.
She said the Federal Government expected that with all sense of responsibility, NARD would see reasons with them.
She said, “I know that maybe between 29 May and now, they assumed that what they requested would be given immediately but, some of the issues have been dealt with by the Federal Government.”
She, however, noted that since the new administration came into office, concerted efforts had been made by the Federal Government and the National Assembly to address the issues.
She said that there were two main contending issues which include the payment of the 2023 Medical Residency Training Fund and One-on-one placement of exited doctors.
Daju explained that on the immediate payment of 2023 Medical Residency Training Fund, the government had appealed to the doctors to await when ministers are in place.
” Very soon, we are sure that ministers are going to be in place and government is not resting on its oars. We understand the plight of where you are coming from,” she said.
On efforts made to resolve the issue of replacement of exited doctors, Daju further explained that the office of the Head of Civil Service was attending to that and a committee had been set up.
She said, “We have pleaded again that you just give us a little more time that when recommendations have been made by the committee we will bring them forth and act but to no avail,” she averred.