The Minister of Health, Dr. Osagie Ehanire has faulted the decision of the National Association of Resident Doctors (NARD) to embark on an indefinite strike from today, accusing the medics of impatience and uncoordinated communication.

 NARD had at the weekend served the notice of the strike on the Minister of Health and chief medical directors/medical directors of all federal and state tertiary health institutions.

Dr. Osagie Ehanire, Minister of Health

But the minister said the action of the doctors was unjustifiable, especially as it is coming at a time COVID-19 pandemic was ravaging the country. He maintained that the implementation of the pact struck by all parties transcends beyond his ministry to the Salary and Wages Commission and other ministries.

Ehanire said the situation was fast becoming embarrassing to the country. “Nigeria is the only nation where doctors have gone on strike three times during the COVID-19 pandemic,” he said.

The minister, however, said that they we are engaging NARD.  He said: “The issue of meeting their demands is multi-layered. It is not just the Ministry of Health. It involves the Ministry of Finance, Salary and Wages Commission, as well as the Ministry of Labour and Productivity. We have been telling them to be patient and allow us sort it out. “The issue of hazard allowance is all part of it. It has to do with money. All we hear is that they are going on strike; they don’t engage us. I have always told them that the door to my office is always open to them. The effort to contain COVID-19 is not a one-person issue. It is a national responsibility. All of us have roles to play.”

Ehanire described COVID-19 as a global emergency as urged resident doctors to suspend the strike. “You are not hearing doctors going on strike all over the world, except in Nigeria,” he said.

But NARD president, Dr. Sokomba Aliyu, said the association had exhausted all peaceful means before it decided to embark on strike as the last resort. The Nigeria Association of Resident Doctors has said its nationwide strike scheduled to commence today (Monday) will go ahead because the Federal Government has yet to invite its leadership for a meeting.

Recall that NARD had resolved to commence an indefinite strike with effect from Monday, September 7 2020The organisation was demanding payment of the medical residency training funding to all its members as approved in the revised 2020 budget and payment of the outstanding April/May and June COVID-19 inducement allowances to all health workers, among others.

NARD said the Nigerian Medical Association, Pharmaceutical Society of Nigeria, National Association of Nigerian Nurses and Midwives and others should support the struggle for upward review of its hazard allowance from the paltry sum of N5,000.

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