The Speaker of the House of Representatives, Femi Gbajabiamila on Monday, June 15, urged members of the National Association of Resident Doctors (NARD) to shelve the planned nationwide strike to enable the implementation of the 2020 Appropriation bill passed by the National Assembly.
Gbajabiamila made this appeal via a statement issued in Abuja observed that the sum of N4 billion was provided in the revised 2020 budget passed last week.
He further disclosed that the leadership of the resident doctors and the executive arm led by the two ministers manning the Federal Ministry of Health held a meeting last week; and all the grievances of the doctors were resolved.
Towards this end, Gbajabiamila stated that the leadership of the House would not fold its arms; while resident doctors embark on strike at this time of COVID-19 pandemic.
The meeting was held sequel to the strike embarked upon by NARD; demanding that issues such as the outstanding payments of hazard allowance; arbitrary disengagement of 23 doctors at the University of Jos Teaching Hospital; non-provision of life insurance despite the death of some doctors from COVID-19; non-provision of personal protective equipment (PPEs); reduction of doctors’ salary by the Kaduna State Government; doctors’ residency training, among others, must be addressed.
In his intervention, the Speaker promised that the House would ensure that the hazard allowance was included in the revised 2020 Budget and this was done.
Show empathy – Health Minister
In a similar vein, the Minister of Health, Dr Osagie Ehanire, told NARD on Monday that they cannot go on strike at a time the country is battling a virulent pandemic.
He warned the doctors who have threatened to embark on strike; that the lives that may be lost in that process are not replaceable.
The minister, who was speaking during the Presidential Task Force briefing on COVID-19; charged the residents doctors to show enough empathy.
Ehanire said: “I also did request that this is not the time to go on strike. Not when we have such a very difficult situation on our hands; and I did request of them to show enough empathy to know that you can make your demands to continue working on those demands; and do not down-tools because the lives that may be lost in that process are not replaceable.”
He pointed out that it was very certain the issues that were raised by the doctors would be attended to; even though some of them were not new and have nothing to do with COVID-19.
The minister said: “Today, we already had a meeting with the House Committee Chairman on Health; and with the National Association of Resident Doctors (NARD), in attendance.
“At that meeting, they have not yet declared their position on the strike; but it was from the meeting that we are able to clarify many of the issues that they had been raising.”