Go Back To Work While We Continue Negotiations, Ngige Urges Striking Doctors

 

The Minister of Labour and Employment, Dr Chris Ngige has appealed to the National Association of Resident Doctors (NARD) to shelve their industrial action as the Federal Government continues to negotiate with the union to end the dispute.

Ngige made the appeal during an interview on Channels Television’s Sunday Politics, as the resident doctors strike enters Day 59.

“I want to appeal to NARD for them to reconsider their position, get back to work tomorrow or next and then come back again for discussions. We have so many things to discuss,” Ngige said.

“I have nephews who are resident doctors. I have three of them at the Nnamdi Azikiwe Teaching Hospital, UNTH Enugu, Orthopaedic Hospital, Enugu. I have so many of them. I have a son who will graduate in Medicine in October. I cannot destroy the profession, I have to protect the profession too.”

The Minister also reacted to the court case filed by the Federal Government against the striking doctors.

According to Ngige, it is the Federal Ministry of Health and the office of the Attorney General of the Federation that can withdraw the case from court.

“The court has ruled and said ‘Go and do some more settlement but meanwhile, you go back to work and continue the settlement’,” he added.

READ ALSO: Court Orders Resident Doctors To Suspend Industrial Action

Logo of the National Association of resident Doctors (NARD).

 

Despite the National Industrial Court’s ruling ordering the striking doctors to return to work, the Minister asked the plaintiffs – Health Ministry and Attorney General’s office as well as the Nigerian Medical Association (NMA) and NARD to approach the Labour Ministry to press their demands.

While noting that he had advised his colleague in the Health Ministry, Dr Osagie Ehanire “to see what he can do so that the discussion will set off,” Ngige said he had always advocated for settlement.

Ngige’s comments come two days after the National Industrial Court ordered resident doctors to suspend their strike action and go back to work, pending the determination of the substantive suit.

Justice Bashar Alkali gave the order on Friday while ruling on an application by the Federal Government.

But the striking doctors have faulted the court’s ruling, vowing to appeal the order.

“As we are all aware, especially those that were present in court today (Friday), the NIC has given a ruling on the application for interlocutory injunction filed by the Federal Government,” the association said via a statement. “We are not satisfied with the ruling.

“After consultations with our lawyers, we have instructed our lawyers to appeal the ruling and file an application for stay of execution.”

Debts Genuinely Owed Health Workers Will Be Settled, Buhari Assures Doctors

President Muhammadu Buhari meets with members of the Nigerian Medical Association (NMA) at the State House in Abuja on September 10, 2021.

 

President Muhammadu Buhari has called on health workers, including members of the National Association of Resident Doctors (NARD) to return to their duty posts.

He made the call on Friday during a meeting with members of the Nigerian Medical Association (NMA) at the State House in Abuja.

The President urged others contemplating strikes to opt for settlement of issues by negotiation, no matter how long it takes.

“Debts genuinely owed Health workers will be settled,” he was quoted as saying in a statement by his media aide, Garba Shehu. “This administration has a good track record of paying all debts owed to government workers, pensioners, and contractors and we have even revisited debts left by past administrations, once due verification is done.

“I learned that some of the 12 points demand in the ongoing strike were already addressed, although the review of a new hazard allowance has not been fully negotiated because of the sharp and deep division within the ranks of the striking doctors.”

President Buhari gave an assurance that all outstanding benefits owed medical doctors would be cleared, after verifications, insisting that going on strike was not an option to consider.

“The lives of citizens that could be lost or damaged when doctors withdraw services, are precious enough to be worth opting for peaceful resolution of differences.

“Protecting our citizens is not to be left to government alone, but taken as a collective responsibility in which, especially medical professionals play a critical role. Let me speak directly to the striking doctors; embarking on industrial action at this time when Nigerians need you most is not the best action to take, no matter the grievances,” he said.

The President said the outstanding issue of an establishment circular issued by the Head of Service, removing house officers, NYSC doctors from the scheme of service had an addendum circular from the National Salaries and Wages Commission to clarify that they would continue to earn the wages attached to them on their present wage structure.

He requested that the agreement reached in the meetings held on August 20 and 21 and captured in the MOU which he saw be religiously implemented.

President Muhammadu Buhari commended the positive role of the NMA as the apex professional medical association in Nigeria.

 

‘More Challenges Ahead’

To further improve the health sector, President Buhari said budgetary allocations had been increased and a Health Sector Reform Committee led by the Vice President had been commissioned to identify and address weaknesses in the health system and align with global best practices that raise public confidence.

According to him, the government is also supporting initiatives to expand health insurance coverage and bring more resources to health financing.

“We have many more challenges ahead and much more to do, for our large population. In this respect, it is important to remind you that, as senior medical personnel and representatives of one of the most respected professional groups in the world, your responsibility for the health and wellbeing of Nigerians is clear,” the President told the NMA leaders.

“It does not end only with the welfare of your members but continues with a sense of responsibility for the entire country and its socio-political health and national stability. The global economy has been seriously affected by the pandemic, and despite recent pleasing news of more than five per cent economic growth of Nigeria in the last quarter, we are still having fiscal challenges to deal with, like most other countries.

“The source of revenue that Nigeria has depended on for so long experienced global decline, our population is rising fast and the tension arising from both is fuelling agitation among our youth. Organisations like the NMA could play a very useful moderating role in society.”

President Buhari commended the positive role of the NMA as the apex professional medical association in Nigeria, especially with regard to the ongoing industrial action.

In his remarks, NMA President, Professor Innocent Ujah, thanked the President for the appointment of members into strategic positions in government, assent to the Medical Residency Act, and immunisation coverage.

He said the association was concerned with the strike by doctors and had been doing its best to alleviate the suffering of patients across the country while appealing for an urgent resolution.

The Minister of Health, Dr Osagie Ehanire, who was also present at the meeting, said the NMA had been playing a critical role in the development of the health sector, particularly in tackling pandemics, participating in policy formulation, and population health.

Kwara Doctors Threaten To Withdraw Service 

Kwara is a state in Western Nigeria
Kwara is a state in west-central Nigeria

 

Kwara doctors under the aegis of the Nigeria Association of Government Medical and Dental Practitioners, (NAGMDP) Kwara Chapter have threatened to withdraw their services across the state over poor remuneration and conditions of service.

The group issued the threat via a letter addressed to the Kwara State Governor, AbdulRahman AbdulRazaq which was sighted by Channels Television on Tuesday.

“If our demands are not met by Monday 13th of September 2021, we shall have no alternative than to withdraw the service of our members across all the hospitals in the state,” the letter signed by the association’s Chairman, Saka Agboola and Secretary Ayinde Musa, partly read.

Following its emergency meeting on August 20, the doctors said there was the need for the Kwara State Government to better reposition the conditions of service of their colleagues.

READ ALSO: COVID-19: FG Considers Action Against People Who Refuse Vaccines

According to them, the move is necessary, in order to prevent the imminent collapse of the health care system in our state.

The association also insisted that the state government must recruit more medical officers in addition to the constant replacement of those that are resigning on a daily basis.

“There should be the provision of adequate security in all of our hospitals to avoid breaking down of laws and order by a patient and their relatives.

“The state government should provide patient-relatives building in hospitals, where relatives can be in comfort, while health workers take care of their relatives on admission,” the group added.

The association also called for payment of COVID-19 allowance to members and other health care workers, as well as provision of a vehicle and housing loan facility at single digit interest rate to all members as a way of motivation and retention in service.

We Did Not Disperse Doctors Seeking Saudi Arabia Job, Says DSS

In this file photo taken on December 6, 2019, two DSS operatives are seen having a conversation during an operation in Abuja.

 

The Department of State Security Services (DSS) has debunked reports suggesting that its operatives dispersed doctors at a job interview organised by Saudi Arabian officials at the Sheraton Hotel, Abuja on Thursday.

In a statement on Friday, the agency described the reports as “illogical” and meant to “embarrass” the organisation.

“Though this is illogical and does not add up, sections of the media that reported it did not care to verify the news before going to print,” the statement signed by the DSS spokesman, Dr. Peter Afunanya, added.

“No further evidence was also adduced to prove that the DSS carried out such an operation at the hotel. It is obvious that the news is only designed to embarrass the Organisation.”

The agency therefore tasked the press to get their facts right before publication so as not to “mislead the public or undermine national security”.


READ ALSO: Striking Doctors Refuse To Sign New MoU With FG After Six-Hour Meeting

Abia Govt Yet To Pay 19 Months’ Salary Arrears To Our Members – Resident Doctors

Resident Doctors Still On Strike Due To Lack Of Trust – NMA


Brain-drain

The recruitment exercise – also held in Lagos – is one of the latest moves to poach the country’s doctors who have been at loggerheads with the Ministry of Health over their welfare and other benefits.

While different governments have in the past bargained with them, the medical doctors claim most of the agreements reached have not been implemented by the authorities.

Irked by the lack of commensurate benefits and what they described as poor working conditions, some of them have moved out of the country to places – Europe, Asia, US –  where they claim provide better conditions for their trade.

 

 

Striking Doctors Refuse To Sign New MoU With FG After Six-Hour Meeting

Federal Government representatives met with striking resident doctors on August 21, 2021.
Federal Government representatives met with striking resident doctors on August 21, 2021. Friday Okeregbe/Channels Television

 

The leadership of the National Association of Resident Doctors (NARD) has refused assent to a new memorandum of understanding brokered by the Nigeria Medical Association to end the three weeks old strike that has crippled medical services in government hospitals across the country.

NARD President, Uyilawa Okhuaihesuyi, declined his assent owing to an undisclosed clause.

According to Okhuaihesuyi, NARD’s leadership has to consult with members of the association before he appends his signature.

READ ALSO: FG, Striking Doctors Meet Again In Abuja

Addressing journalists after the over six hours closed-door meeting, the Minister of Labour and Employment, Chris Ngige, said all other unions in the negotiation, including the Nigeria Medical Association and the Medical and Dental Consultants of Nigeria, signed the new agreement, having agreed on all the issues raised.

Meanwhile, the minister also clarified that the meeting did not discuss the issues of ‘no work, no pay,’ but said all parties at the meeting agreed to an out-of-court settlement.

The Federal Government had taken the striking doctors to court last week, as it asked the National Industrial Court to mandate the doctors to return to work.

The hearing on the case was adjourned to September 15.

The doctors had embarked on a strike on August 2, citing unpaid benefits and other issues.

While the industrial action lingered, the Federal Government threatened to enforce a ‘no work, no pay’ policy.

Resident Doctors To Begin Nationwide Strike On Monday

A file photo of doctors during a protest.

 

The National Association of Resident Doctors (NARD) has directed its members across the country to embark on a total strike from Monday, August 2.

This directive was issued on Saturday at the end of the executive meeting of the National Executive Council (NEC) of the union held in Umuahia, the Abia State capital.

Briefing reporters at the end of the meeting, NARD National President, Dr Okhuaihesuyi Uyilawa, disclosed that members have been asked to proceed on a nationwide indefinite industrial action.

“We are embarking on a total and indefinite strike on August 2, 2021. You can recall we had a memorandum of action on March 31, 2021, and had an addendum to it on April 9, and since then, we still have had irregularities in the payment of salaries to the house officers.

“We had issues with them being non-regular payment and as part of the memorandum of action, it was said that they should be captured back into the IPPS platform,” he said.

Uyilawa added, “You are aware that we lost 19 members to COVID-19 and death in service insurance was supposed to be paid to their next of kin.

“The last time we met the minister of labour and minister of health, we were told that our members are part of those to be given the insurance benefit, but we found out that their names are not even their.”

He cited the inability of the Federal Government to meet the demands of the doctors as part of the reasons for the decision to go on strike.

The NARD president, however, apologised to Nigerians for the decision which he insisted was a result of the government’s failure in its responsibilities.

The resolutions reached at the end of the meeting read,

After critical appraisal of the performance of both Federal and State Governments on all the issues affecting the welfare of our members as observed above and the insincerity of government in implementing the memorandum of action after One Hundred and Thirteen (113) days, the NEC unanimously resolved by vote to resume the total and indefinite
strike action from 08.00hrs Monday 2nd August 2021.

The NEC in particular demanded the immediate withdrawal of the circular removing House Officers from the scheme of service.

Finally, the NEC stated unequivocally especially to the members of the public that the NARD is committed to the smooth running of the health sector; however, can only do so when our welfare is given the desired attention.

 

The doctors had embarked on industrial action in April, leaving many patients unattended across various government-owned hospitals in the country.

They later suspended it 10 days later following a virtual meeting with members which lasted about 15 hours on April 10.

Some of the issues raised by the medical practitioners as of then included the immediate payment of all salaries owed to all house officers, including March salaries (regardless of quota system) before the end of business on March 31.

They also sought an upward review of the hazard allowance to 50 per cent of consolidated basic salaries of all health workers and payment of the outstanding COVID-19 inducement allowance, especially in state-owned-tertiary Institutions.

The doctors called for the abolishment of the exorbitant bench fees being paid by their members on outside postings in all training institutions across the country.

Peju Ugboma’s Death: FCCPC Holds Public Hearing As Doctors Fail To Testify

 

The Federal Competition and Consumer Protection Commission (FCCPC) on Tuesday commenced a public hearing into the death of Mrs Peju Ugboma, a Lagos-based chef, to determine the possible violations of patient/consumer rights in the matter.

Late Peju’s family had accused a private hospital, Premier Specialist Medical Centre in Victoria Island of negligence, resulting in her premature death.

Doctors from the hospital, however, failed to testify at the public hearing as they claimed the Medical and Dental Council of Nigeria (MDCN) had ordered them not to.

At the session, FCCPC Executive Vice Chairman and CEO, Babatunde Irukera, kickstarted proceedings by reminding the parties that the hearing was not a fault-finding one.

A file photo of late Peju Ugboma.

 

He explained that it was convened to gather information as to what exactly happened from April 23 when late Peju was admitted to the hospital for an elective surgical operation.

The Attorney General and Commissioner for Justice in Lagos, Moyosore Onigbanjo, also gave a remark at the hearing.

A broad-based panel has also been set up for the public hearing with representatives drawn from the Rule of Law Office of the Presidency, and the Federal Ministry of Health.

Others were Lagos State Health Facility Monitoring and Accreditation Agency (HEFMAA), Lagos State Consumer Protection Agency (LASCOPA), and Nigerian Bar Association (NBA).

However, representatives of the Nigerian Medical Association (NMA) and the MDCN declined to participate in the hearing, citing issues of confidentiality.

A screengrab taken on June 16, 2021, shows the panel at the public hearing of the FCCPC held in Lagos on June 15, 2021.

 

Despite their objections, the hearing went on first with the testimony of Ijoma Ugboma, the husband of late Peju.

But the proceedings hit a brick wall when doctors from the hospital were called upon to testify.

Their counsel and a Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN), Abimbola Akeredolu, told the public hearing that the Chief Medical Officer, Dr Lolu Osinowo, was out of the country, and had opted to be heard virtually while other doctors were absent.

In its reaction, the FCCPC said that it would go ahead with the hearing even if the doctors were not represented and fixed Wednesday to continue with the proceedings.

Prevail On States To Pay Owed Salary Arrears To Doctors, NARD Tells FG

A file photo of doctors during a protest.

 

The National Association of Resident Doctors (NARD) has called on the Federal Government to prevail on state governments to pay salary arrears owed their members in the country.

This formed part of the resolutions reached at the virtual National Executive Council (NEC) meeting of the union after its leadership met with the government.

Addressing reporters on Monday in Abuja, NARD President, Dr Uyilawa Okhuaihesuyi, noted that authorities in Abia and Imo States owe resident doctors 20 months and five months arrears, respectively.

He stressed the need for the state governments to pay up the arrears within the widow of suspension of the strike by the doctors which he said was four weeks.

Dr Okhuaihesuyi also clarified that the suspension of the industrial action which lasted 10 days was conditional, saying the union would review the government’s responses to their requests by the end of April.

READ ALSO: Doctors Threaten To Resume Strike In Four Weeks If Demands Are Not Met

“The NEC resolved to suspend the ongoing total and indefinite nationwide industrial action from Monday, April 12, 2021, at 8am for a period of four weeks to give room for the government to sort out all pending issues as constrained in the MOA.

“The NEC appealed to all relevant stakeholders to prevail on government and her agencies to keep to their side of the bargain as documented in the Memorandum of Action in order to prevent reoccurring strikes in the health sector,” he said while reading the communique issued at the end of the meeting held on Saturday.

The doctors asked the Federal Government to remove medical training from the concurrent list to allow for the universal implementation of the Medical Residency Training Act across the Federation, including state training institutions.

According to the NARD president, a meeting of stakeholders has been scheduled for Wednesday to determine the new hazard allowance for health workers.

Doctors Threaten To Resume Strike In Four Weeks If Demands Are Not Met

 

Members of the National Association of Resident Doctors (NARD) have asked the Federal Government to honour its agreement with the union.

They warned that should the government fail to honour its agreement in the next four weeks, they would be forced to declare another indefinite nationwide industrial action.

President of NARD, Dr Uyilawa Okhuaihesuyi, gave the warning on behalf of his colleagues when he featured as a guest on Sunrise Daily on Monday.

“We have been given a leap of faith to believe in the system and we hope and pray that the system does not fail us,” he said during his appearance on the Channels Television breakfast programme.

The doctor added, “If it fails us, we don’t have a choice but to call a meeting in the next four weeks, which is the timeline for this strike that we suspended.

“If our demands are not met in four weeks’ time, I think it will go back to us going on indefinite strike again.”

READ ALSO: Resident Doctors Suspend Nationwide Strike

Members of the union had embarked on strike on April 1, but it was suspended after 10 days following a meeting with the government on Saturday.

In their demands, they sought the payment of all salaries owed to all house officers, including March salaries, and payment of all salary arrears for their colleagues in all Federal (GIFMIS platform) and State Tertiary Health Institutions across the country, especially ASUTH, IMSUTH, and UNIMEDTH.

They also called for an upward review of the current hazard allowance to 50 per cent of consolidated basic salaries of all health workers, as well as and payment of the outstanding COVID-19 inducement allowance, especially in state-owned-tertiary Institutions, among other issues raised.

 

Significant Progress Made

A file photo of medical doctors during a protest.

 

Giving an update on the progress made so far since the strike was suspended, Dr Okhuaihesuyi acknowledged that significant progress has been made.

He said, “We have gained something significant, but it may not be enough to end the strike because as we speak, there is a meeting that is going to hold concerning the N5,000 hazard allowance today, and with other health workers on Wednesday.

“For the members we lost to COVID-19 (17 members were lost), we have been able to reach an agreement that the doctors and health workers involved should be able to make claims so that they can benefit from the group insurance.”

On the demand for the house officers’ payment, the NARD president noted that they have achieved at least about 75 – 80 per cent progress.

He confirmed that about 239 house officers have been paid as of Monday morning, but there were some irregularities with the payment.

“If we didn’t go on this strike, we will not be able to achieve the proposed review of hazard allowance; if we didn’t go on this strike, we won’t be able to have them to tell us that we should go and make a supplementary budget for those that have not been paid Medical Resident Training fund,” said Dr Okhuaihesuyi.

Strike: FG Accuses Doctors Of Playing With Lives Of Nigerians

A file photo of the Minister of Labour and Employment, Chris Ngige.

 

The Federal Government has accused the Nigerian Association of Resident Doctors (NARD) of playing with the lives of Nigerians who need them at this critical time.

Dr Chris Ngige, who is the Minister of Labour and Employment, made the allegation on Friday at the opening session of a meeting with the aggrieved doctors in Abuja, the nation’s capital.

He warned the members of the union to stop what he described as toying with the lives of citizens in the name of pressing for better welfare.

According to the minister, neither NARD nor the Nigerian Medical Association (NMA) is a trade union and many Nigerians have died as a result of the industrial action by the resident doctors.

He stated that while members of the associations were entitled to some rights, they should be mindful that their actions have serious consequences.

“Nigeria is facing a serious challenge from COVID-19 at the moment. This calls for selflessness by all.

“Notwithstanding, the present administration is doing everything to ensure better welfare for our health workers who are key in the fight against the pandemic,” Ngige told the doctors.

He also asked them to abide by their Hippocratic Oath which placed on them the primary responsibility of saving the lives of their patients.

The Minister of State for Health, Dr Olorunnimbe Mamora, who was also at the meeting, appealed to the doctors to end their strike.

He assured that their concerns were already being taken care of by the government, adding that it was important for them to return to work.

On their part, the doctors denied the allegations by the minister, saying they remained open to meaningful negotiation from the government.

Thereafter, the meeting went into a closed-door session while journalists await the outcome of issues discussed.

The ongoing strike by the doctors began on Thursday last week, despite a conciliatory meeting with the leadership of NARD and Ngige.

Among many other demands, the doctors called for the immediate payment of all salaries owed to all house officers, including March salaries (regardless of quota system) before the end of business on March 31.

They also demanded the immediate payment of all salary arrears, including March salaries for members in all Federal (GIFMIS platform) and State Tertiary Health Institutions across the country, especially ASUTH, IMSUTH, and UNIMEDTH.

NARD sought an upward review of the current hazard allowance to 50 per cent of consolidated basic salaries of all health workers and payment of the outstanding COVID-19 inducement allowance, especially in state-owned-tertiary Institutions.

They also called for the abolishment of the exorbitant bench fees being paid by their members on outside postings in all training institutions across the country with immediate effect.

According to the doctors, salary shortfalls of 2014, 2015, and 2016 should be paid to their members in all federal institutions, including state-owned institutions as earlier agreed with the government.

They asked for the payment of death in service insurance for all health workers who died as a result of COVID-19 infection or other infectious diseases in the country.

UPDATED: Resident Doctors Begin Indefinite Strike Nationwide

A file photo of doctors during a protest.

 

Members of the Nigerian Association of Resident Doctors (NARD) have commenced an industrial action across the country.

The strike which was scheduled to begin on Thursday followed an ultimatum issued to the Federal Government which expired on Wednesday.

NARD President, Dr Uyilawa Okhuaihesuyi, announced the commencement of the nationwide strike during an interview on Sunrise Daily – a breakfast programme on Channels Television.

“The strike commenced 8am this morning, and we enjoin all resident doctors to start the strike immediately,” he said.

 

Ahead of the planned strike, the Minister of Labour and Employment, Doctor Chris Ngige, a conciliatory meeting with the leaders of the union on Wednesday in Abuja.

At the meeting which lasted several hours, he appealed to the aggrieved medical practitioners to have a rethink and sheathe their sword, saying the Federal Government was making efforts to ensure their demands were met.

Giving an update on the meeting, Okhuaihesuyi who led other leaders of the union to the discussion said they were not strange to the government’s proposal.

He stressed the need for the government to take more responsibility, adding that the decision to go on strike was for the benefit of all healthcare workers in the country.

“We had a meeting with the Minister of Labour from 4pm till about 12am this morning; we insist that the implementation of what we wrote on the strike notice should be intimated immediately.

“We are not just doing this for resident doctors, we are doing this for all health workers … the government needs to be more responsible,” the NARD president stated.

 

The Demands

In their demands, the doctors had called for the immediate payment of all salaries owed to all house officers, including March salaries (regardless of quota system) before the end of business on March 31.

They also demanded the immediate payment of all salary arrears, including March salaries for members in all Federal (GIFMIS platform) and State Tertiary Health Institutions across the country, especially ASUTH, IMSUTH, and UNIMEDTH.

NARD sought an upward review of the current hazard allowance to 50 per cent of consolidated basic salaries of all health workers and payment of the outstanding COVID-19 inducement allowance, especially in state-owned-tertiary Institutions.

They called for the abolishment of the exorbitant bench fees being paid by their members on outside postings in all training institutions across the country with immediate effect.

According to the doctors, salary shortfalls of 2014, 2015, and 2016 should be paid to their members in all federal institutions, including state-owned institutions as earlier agreed with the government.

They asked for the payment of death in service insurance for all health workers who died as a result of COVID-19 infection or other infectious diseases in the country.

Other demands, made at the meeting of the National Executive Council of the union held on Saturday last week at the National Hospital in Abuja, read:

Universal domestication/implementation of the 2017 MRTA by all Federal Government and State-owned Training Institutions to ensure proper funding of Residency Training in the country as stipulated by the Act.

Immediate payment of 2019, the balance of 2020 and 2021 Medical Residency Training Funds (MRTF) to our members including those under state government employ.

Immediate implementation of September 2017 Memorandum of Terms of Settlement (MOTOS) between NARD and the Federal Government of Nigeria in order to bring lasting peace to the health sector and curb the ongoing ugly trend of brain drain from the health sector.

Immediate review of the Act regulating Postgraduate Medical Training in Nigeria in line with International Best Practices to remove the unnecessary rigors in Residency Training in Nigeria, one of the factors attributed to brain drain in the health sector.

Immediate commencement of employment into all Government-owned hospitals to improve service delivery to Nigerians, enhance Residency Training, and curb the attendant brain drain in the health sector.

It also demanded the reintroduction of medical super salary structure and specialist allowance for all Doctors as already approved for some other health workers. This will go a long way in ensuring peace in the health sector.

The NEC unanimously demanded the sack of the Registrar of MDCN for failure to demonstrate competence in the handling of the central placement of house officers. This will give room for smooth implementation of the central placement of house officers without further delays.

Finally, the NEC reiterated her commitment to the smooth running of all tertiary institutions in the country and the provision of specialist healthcare to Nigerians but urge the Federal Government to urgently meet the above demands in order to avert this avoidable industrial action.

Resident Doctors To Begin Indefinite Strike On Thursday

A file photo of doctors during a protest.

 

The Nigerian Association of Resident Doctors (NARD) will embark on a nationwide strike from Thursday, its leaders have said.

In a statement jointly signed by NARD President, Dr Uyilawa Okhuaihesuyi; its Secretary-General, Dr Jerry Isogun, and its Publicity/Social Secretary, Dr Dotun Osikoya, the union said the industrial action would be total and indefinite, should the Federal Government fail to meet its demands.

It explained that the decision to go on strike was taken at the extraordinary National Executive Council of the union held on Saturday at the National Hospital in Abuja.

During the meeting attended by over 50 chapters of the association across the country, the doctors reviewed the earlier ultimatum given to the government and scheduled to expire on Wednesday.

Burning issues affecting residency training, healthcare delivery, and welfare of the unio members also formed major discussions at the meeting.

In their resolutions, the doctors called for the immediate payment of all salaries owed to all house officers, including March salaries before the end of March 31.

They also asked the government to commence the immediate payment of all salary arrears, including March salaries to their members in all Federal and state tertiary health institutions.

The union resolved to call for the upward review of the current hazard allowance to 50 per cent of consolidated basic salaries of all health workers, as well as the payment of the outstanding COVID-19 inducement allowance.

They also sought the immediate abolishment of the exorbitant bench fees being paid by their members on outside postings in all training Institutions.

A communique issued at the end of the NEC meeting read:

PREAMBLE

The Nigerian Association of Resident Doctors (NARD) held an extraordinary National Executive Council meeting on the 27th of March 2021 at the Trauma Center in National Hospital Abuja to review her earlier ultimatum and deliberate on burning issues affecting Residency Training, Healthcare Delivery and the Welfare of her members across the country.

The NEC was attended by over 50 Chapters of the Association across the country. After extensive deliberations, the following observations and resolutions were made;

OBSERVATIONS

The NEC observed that her earlier ultimatum given to the Federal Government during the January 2021 NEC meeting in Owerri will expire by 12 midnight on the 31st of March 2021 with no significant achievement.

The NEC reiterated her full support for the Central Placement of House Officers. Nevertheless, they decried the agony our members have been made to pass through for three months now without salaries despite uninterrupted service delivery to the nation. This is due to the inefficiency of the Registrar of MDCN in handling the processes of central placement of House Officers as approved by the Federal Executive Council since 2017.

The NEC bemoaned the suffering of some of our members in GIFMIS platform who have not been paid salaries for four months now due to delay in biometric capturing by IPPIS department.

They lamented the inhumane treatment been meted on our members in some State Tertiary Institutions like ABSUTH being owed twenty months salaries, IMSUTH five months salaries and UNIMEDTH three months salaries.

The NEC also observed that despite the three months window given to the Federal Government to review the hazard allowance of health workers, the hazard allowance has remained a paltry sum of five thousand (5000) naira monthly.

The NEC noted that despite the efforts of NARD, the erroneously paid 2020 Medical Residency Training Fund (MRTF) to non-resident Doctors is yet to be addressed. Also, 2019, some of 2020 and 2021 MRTF are yet to be paid.

The NEC also observed the non-implementation of the Medical Residency Training Act (MRTA) in some institutions in the country, especially state-owned institutions.

The NEC noted the non-payment of the arrears of Salary shortfall dating back to 2014 to our members across the country including State-owned Tertiary Institutions.

The NEC observed that up till now none of our members have benefited from the Death in Service Insurance Scheme despite our constant engagement with the relevant stakeholders with the data of our colleagues who died in service to the nation.

The NEC noted the irregular and exorbitant amounts being paid as Bench Fees by our members on outside postings.

The NEC observed with dismay that the Act regulating Postgraduate Medical Training in Nigeria established in 1979 is yet to be reviewed.

They observed the alarming rate of brain drain of doctors and other health workers to foreign countries in the face of a severe shortage of manpower in all Government-owned hospitals across the country. This is because of lack of employment in most hospitals, poor remuneration, and poor conditions of service in the health sector.

The NEC noted the efforts put in by the Honourable Speaker, House of Representatives, federal Ministries of Health, Labour & Employment and the Chairman, Committee on Health, federal House of Representatives in trying to resolve the issue of non-payment of salaries of our house officers. However, these have not yielded the desired results.

RESOLUTIONS

The NEC unanimously agreed that NARD should proceed on a total and indefinite strike on the 1st of April 2021, by 8am if the following demands are not met.

Immediate Payment of all salaries owed to all house officers including March salaries (regardless of quota system) before the end of business on the 31st of March 2021.

Immediate payment of all salary arrears including March salaries for our members in all Federal (GIFMIS platform) and State Tertiary Health Institutions across the country especially ASUTH, IMSUTH, and UNIMEDTH.

Upward review of the current hazard allowance to 50% of consolidated basic salaries of all health workers and payment of the outstanding COVID-19 inducement allowance especially in State owned-tertiary Institutions.

Abolishment of the exorbitant bench fees being paid by our members on outside postings in all Training Institutions across the country with immediate effect.

Payment of Salary shortfalls of 2014, 2015, and 2016 to our members in all Federal Institutions including state-owned institutions as earlier agreed with NARD.

Payment of death in service insurance for all health workers who died as a result of COVID-19 infection or other infectious diseases in the country.

Universal domestication/implementation of the 2017 MRTA by all Federal Government and State-owned Training Institutions to ensure proper funding of Residency Training in the country as stipulated by the Act.

Immediate payment of 2019, the balance of 2020 and 2021 Medical Residency Training Funds (MRTF) to our members including those under state government employ.

Immediate implementation of September 2017 Memorandum of Terms of Settlement (MOTOS) between NARD and the Federal Government of Nigeria in order to bring lasting peace to the health sector and curb the ongoing ugly trend of brain drain from the health sector.

Immediate review of the Act regulating Postgraduate Medical Training in Nigeria in line with International Best Practices to remove the unnecessary rigors in Residency Training in Nigeria, one of the factors attributed to brain drain in the health sector.

Immediate commencement of employment into all Government-owned hospitals to improve service delivery to Nigerians, enhance Residency Training, and curb the attendant brain drain in the health sector.

It also demanded the reintroduction of medical super salary structure and specialist allowance for all Doctors as already approved for some other health workers. This will go a long way in ensuring peace in the health sector.

The NEC unanimously demanded the sack of the Registrar of MDCN for failure to demonstrate competence in the handling of the central placement of house officers. This will give room for smooth implementation of the central placement of house officers without further delays.

Finally, the NEC reiterated her commitment to the smooth running of all tertiary institutions in the country and the provision of specialist healthcare to Nigerians but urge the Federal Government to urgently meet the above demands in order to avert this avoidable industrial action.

APPRECIATION

On behalf of the entire membership of the Nigerian Association of Resident Doctors, the National Executive Council expresses their heartfelt gratitude to the following distinguished individuals for their continuous support to our struggle for a better healthcare system in Nigeria.

The Honourable Speaker, House of Representatives, Rt Hon Femi Gbajabiamila.

The Minister of Labour and Employment, Senator (Dr) Chris Ngige.

The Honourable Minister of Health, Dr Osagie Ehanire and the Director, Hospital Services Dr Adebimpe Adebiyi.

The Chairman, Committee on Health, Federal House of Representatives, Hon Dr Tanko Sununu.

The CMD, National Hospital Abuja and Chairman, Committee of CMDs in Nigeria, Dr Jaf Momoh.

The President, Nigeria Medical Association, Prof (Dr) Innocent Ujah mni.

Long live NARD.

Long live NMA.

Long live the Federal Republic of Nigeria.