By Royal Ibeh, Lagos
T he recent strike by the National Association of Resident Doctors (NARD) would be the fourth strike within the space of one year. On the 2nd of August, 2021, the NARD embarked on an indefinite strike, due to outstanding salary payments.
This is not the first time the association is going on an indefinite strike. On the 15th of June, 2020, NARD embarked on indefinite strike due to lack of Personal Protection Equipment (PPE), leading to deaths of their colleagues to COVID-19. The strike was later called off seven days later (22nd June, 2020).
The association also embarked on an indefinite strike on the 7th of September 2020, due to hazard allowance and PPE, but was called off four days later. Barely four months ago, resident doctors embarked on a ten day strike that started 1st of April, 2021, due to outstanding wages owed by the federal and state government.
The ongoing indefinite strike is the fourth the resident doctors are embarking on within a year, and it may not be the last except if the Nigerian government does what it is supposed to do, the president of NARD, Dr Uyilawa Okhuaihesuyi told me.
The Nigerian government is not shifting ground either, as it has ordered all chief medical directors in teaching hospitals across the country, to open attendance registers in a bid to stop the salaries of resident doctors who have joined the ongoing strike.
Unfortunately, Nigerians are the ones bearing the brunt of the ongoing strike, as majority of them who could not afford the private clinics, are left with no choice than to resort to native medicine, while praying for the strike to be called off.
For instance, when a 40 year old man, Mr John Bayo visited the Lagos University Teaching Hospital, (LUTH), he was told to go home and come back when doctors have called off the strike because his case was not an emergency one. However, Bayo tells me that he decided to go to a private clinic in Ikeja, Lagos, but was discouraged due to how expensive it was.
“I just told them to conduct test for me. When the test result came out, I was told I had malaria. I went to an ‘agbo’ seller (herbal medicine seller) , who gave me ‘agbo’ for three days and I got better. I am grateful to God that it was malaria. What if it had been a terminal disease? That is how, I would have died,” Bayo lamented.
He, however, pleaded with government and the resident doctors to shield their swords, go back to the drawing board and come to an agreement.