Federal government has appealed to the striking resident doctors to return to work immediately and not to allow their association to be used by enemies of the country to cause instability in the health sector.
Minister of Health, Dr Osagie Ehanire, made the appeal yesterday during a press briefing in Abuja.
Ehanire described the ongoing strike by NARD as a big mistake saying the action portrays the doctors in a bad light especially when the country is struggling to check the third wave and Delta Variant of the COVID-19 pandemic.
He said innocent Nigerians should not be put at risk because of money-related issues, especially as efforts were being made to address the issue.
Ehanire regretted that embarking on strike at such a time would sabotage the efforts of the government, including the establishment of 125 isolation and treatment centres, at containing the pandemic and likely cause an explosion of the virus.
He expressed worry over reports that patients showing symptoms of COVID 19 were being rejected in hospitals due to the strike.
The minister called for dialogue to resolve the issues, saying dialogue is always the best approach to conflict resolution.
He explained that the federal government has always proactively engaged NARD to seek solutions to their complaints.
“These are: salary arrears owed Resident Doctors in state hospitals, Domestication of Medical Residency Training ActMRTAby state governments, speedy release of MRTA approved funds by states, Minimum Wage- Adjusted CONMESS 2019, payment of COVID-19 inducement allowance by States, accreditation of unaccredited departments in States Training Institutions and central Posting of House Officers in States institutions.”
According to Ehanire, health is an item on the Residual legislative list of the country’s constitution, which means that federal and state government each have separate powers, over which NARD has been advised to meet with the respective state governments, who are independent employers of some NARD members at state hospitals, in their own right, to resolve matters of specific concern between them.
On hazard allowance, the minister said the federal government has set aside a lump sum for payment of hazard allowance to health workers while urging NARD to work with NMA to sort out the delay in payment, rather than blame the government.
On Residency Training Programme Fund, Ehanire said “It is captured in the 2021 Supplementary Act in the sub head: Service Wide Vote. This was communicated to NARD representatives at the meeting hosted by the Federal Ministry of Labour and Employment on 22nd July, 2021.