We’ve lost lives, revenue — NMA President
Urges FG to accede to doctors’ demands
Patients express fears over impact of strike
By Sola Ogundipe, Chioma Obinna, Johnbosco Agbakwuru & Gabriel Olawale
ABUJA— Striking National Association of Resident Doctors, NARD, yesterday, agreed to suspend the ongoing nationwide indefinite strike, if members received alert of their salaries.
The Federal Government’s negotiation team, led by Minister of Labour and Employment, Senator Chris Ngige, and the union were locked in a marathon meeting that lasted over 12 hours to resolve the differences that led to the strike.
Following the insistence of the resident doctors not to call off the strike until their demands were met, especially salary, and the pressure from the government team for the doctors to go back to their duty posts without further delay, NARD finally agreed to suspend the strike today but only after receipt of payment of salaries shortfall worth N13.4 billion.
Before the doctors succumbed to the pressure from the Ngige-led government team, the communiqué of the meeting was amended about six times with the aid of torchlight, and signed by parties at about 2:57am, yesterday.
After the prolonged argument at the conciliatory meeting, Senator Ngige said the indefinite strike unsettled government’s negotiation team.
He, however, noted that the parties resolved to review NARD’s position because their NEC-in-session did not believe in the terms of settlement bargained with government agencies.
He explained that in consonance with ILO convention, either of the parties who agreed on Collective Bargaining Agreement, CBA, could engage in social dialogue, with a view to clearing grey areas.
They also agreed that “NARD national officers should present the outcome of the renegotiated memorandum of terms of settlement to an emergency meeting of its members today, Friday, September 8, 2017, with a view to suspending the strike once there is an evidence of payment of the mandate presented to the meeting to the affected institutions.”
The parties also agreed that NARD members were on pensionable appointment and as such, Federal Ministry of Health, in conjunction with Office of Accountant General of the Federation and Budget Office of the Federation, should take necessary steps to ensure that adequate budgetary allocations were made to cover the pension requirements of NARD members.
Similarly, the parties concluded that NARD members should be on the IPPIS platform and that Chief Medical Directors, CMDs, as well as Medical Directors, MDs, should be requested by Federal Ministry of Health to submit their nominal roll to the OAGF and copy FMoH and Federal Ministry of Labour and Employment on or before September 15, 2017.
It was agreed that all resident doctors should be captured on IPPIS platform by the end of October 2017.
The payment is to be made to their respective health institutions, after verification of the affected doctors.
They further resolved that all federal health institutions already verified should be paid on or before September 8, 2017 and subsequently pay others after following due process.
But before some of the contentious issues were resolved at the meeting, intermittently, the leaders of resident doctors stormed out of the venue to consult with the members on the position of the government.
Some of the aggrieved members of NARD who preferred to loiter outside, had threatened to impeach their president if he conceded to the pressure to sign any agreement with the Federal Government’s negotiation team without receiving alerts.
We’ve lost lives, revenue— NMA President
Meanwhile, National President of the Nigeria Medical Association, NMA, Prof Mike Ogirima, has urged the Federal Government to yield to the demands of the striking resident doctors, even as fears are being expressed that the strike is worsening the already high mortality rate statistics and perpetuating crisis within the sector.
Reacting to the situation, Ogirima, who noted that the strike would have been averted if government was proactive.
He said: “Is it possible to quantify the cost of life? Of course, it is not possible. The hospitals have lost a lot of revenue. The country is losing its citizens and it is worsening the economy and health indices.
“We are hopefully waiting for the implementation of the agreement with effect from today (yesterday). Once that is done and government has shown the transparency and the speed of implementation of these agreements, the resident doctors will call off the strike.”
Patients express fears over impact of strike
Meanwhile, fears are being expressed that the strike by the doctors could be worsening the already high mortality rate statistics and perpetuating crisis within the sector.
Some patients affected in the wake of the strike say it does not augur well for the nation’s health sector or the economy.
Mr Tunde John, who was denied access to treatment, yesterday, in Lagos, noted that the strike was further compounding the plight of the sector.
John noted that strikes in the health sector are gradually destroying the nation’s public healthcare system.
He said: “It will fuel brain drain, medical tourism, lowering budgetary allocations, and other negative growth for the sector.
“Patients are losing confidence and are being forced to consider travelling abroad. Strike decreases interest of investors and lower the quality of service delivery.”
Another patient, Tola Adeshina, lamented that a few Nigerians might have died or suffered irreversible disability due to inability to access treatment.
“A situation where citizens are unable to access healthcare because doctors are on strike is in no small measure hampering healthcare provision.”
At the National Orthopaedic Hospital Igbobi (NOHIL) yesterday showed that the tertiary health facility was discharging in-patients while giving fresh appointments to patients that had been ooked to see their doctors.
At the Out-patient Department (OPD), some patients seeking the attention of doctors were not even aware of the ongoing strike while registration of patients in some private hospitals could attract as much as N55,000.
One Mr Tobi, a patient who said he brought his sick brother to the hospital but was told that doctors were on strike. He was worried because he could not pay the high cost treatment in a private hospital.