Awka – President Muhamadu Buhari may have had his health covered with his London medical trip but most Nigerians will not have this luxury from Thursday if the proposed strike by resident doctors goes ahead.
On Tuesday, Buhari embarked on a visit to his personal doctor in what the Presidency described as routine medical checkup in the United Kingdom.
The president, who is expected back in Abuja in the second week of next month, last traveled to London for a medical examination in May 2018.
The National Association of Resident Doctors, NARD, had threatened to embark on a nationwide strike from April 1st, 2021, which they say is informed by poor welfare packages, unpaid salaries, and alleged ineptitude of Registrar of Medical and Dental Council of Nigeria, MDCN, Dr Tajudeen Sanusi amongst other demands.
The Association is also demanding the reintroduction of medical super salary structure and specialist allowance for all Doctors as already approved for some other health workers, as well as the sack of the MDCN Registrar, to help give room for smooth implementation of the central placement of house officers without further delays.
According to NARD President, Dr Uyilawa Okhuaihesuyi who conveyed resolutions taken at the extraordinary National Executive Council, NEC, meeting of the Association over the weekend in a communique, the only way to avert the strike was the immediate payment of all salaries owed house officers including March salaries, regardless of the quota system, before the end of business on the 31st March 2021.
In an exclusive chat with TNC correspondent on Tuesday, the Leader, South-East Caucus of the National Association of Resident Doctors, Nwosu Ekeoma, said the federal government appears to be taking the nation’s public health system for granted.
Ekeoma revealed that the government is yet to pay the wages of young doctors for about three months.
“Everybody is talking about going on strike and the President is going overseas for medical trip. Is that not ridiculous? They will continue to promise and fail. The NARD officers are the most vulnerable, the youngest in the category of doctors and they work for three months yet you have not paid them. Isn’t that bad? This is the height of wickedness in the country,” he maintained.
Dr Ekeoma says there will be no strike if the demands of doctors are met.
“If they can pay all the House officers their salaries, accrued from the time they were employed till March and then pay all the outstanding arrears and then increase the hazard allowance to what we are demanding, at least we can agree and go back to the negotiation table. Maybe after that all the other ones can then follow,” the Medical doctor said.