Resident doctors across the country will proceed on a seven-day nationwide warning strike beginning from today, Wednesday January 18, 2017. The strike will last till midnight of Tuesday, January 24, 2017.
NARD has taken this critical stance due to Federal Government’s insensitivity towards the plight of doctors.
Nigeria’s health system is among the worst in the world. According to the World Health Organisation’s (WHO’s) 2015 estimates, Nigeria’s health system was ranked 187 out of 191 countries. This means the country’s health care system is only better than that of three countries: Democratic Republic of the Congo, Central African-Republic, and Myanmar. Neighbouring countries such as Ghana, Togo, Niger, Mali, Chad ranked better than Nigeria with 135, 152, 170, 163 and 178 respectively.
In view of this, the members of NARD nationwide were instructed to mourn our ‘demised’ health sector and centres complied. This action is aimed at revitalising the moribund state of Nigeria’s health sector.
Reproduced here are the demands of the noble association:
1) Quality, efficient, effective and uninterrupted medical services at the federal tertiary health institutions (FTHIs) through the full and immediate implimentation of the National Health Act which shall ensure universal health coverage, free medical treatment to children, pregnant women, elderly and medical emergencies through universal health insurance as well as the proper planning, funding and running of the health facilities including training of personnel;
2) Immediate renovation, rehabilitation, re-equiping and revamping of FTHI’s facilities and equipments which at the moment are in disrepair and are ill-equiped;
3) Release and implementation of the white paper on residency training which is the programme that provides the specialist manpower for tertiary and specialist medical services which are grossly in short supply in the country due to poor service/work conditions, poor remuneration, indequate training facilities/spaces and braindrain, all leading to oversea medical tourism with loss of huge capital to foreign countries;
4) Sponsorship of residency programme which contrary to claim, residency programme is not under any form of sponsorship from government and neither are the trainees. Resident doctors are employed as doctors and paid salaries for services rendered or work done, even though it forms part of their training. Beyond that, resident doctors also carry out research. They neither pay any school fees or tuition in residency programme, and government does not owe them any such obligation. The other aspect of in-service training sponsorship is part of duty tour allowance (DTA) payable to every staff for official duties. While other staff are paid duely their DTA, resident doctors are not paid as at when due leading to arrears accumulating up to 10 years in some institutions. Long after the resident doctor has finished the programme, he still does not get refund for the DTA he funded with his salary. Many a time, these official duties cost as much as 2 – 3 months of the doctors’ salaries thereby putting strain and stress on them amidst other responsibilities including financial obligations to their families, which they are supposed to resolve with the same meagre salaries. Not withstanding the oversea clinical attachment which is no longer sponsored by government.
4) ‘No work no pay’ policy viz-a-viz ‘work with no pay’: While government are at liberty to apply that rule, equity demands that if it is not universal, it should not be selective and if you are unable to pay for work done, then there is no moral justification to apply ‘no work, no pay’ as done to only striking doctors while sparing other striking workers in the health sector and other ministries. The institutions affected include: FMC-Owerri, FMC-Umuahia, FMC-Lokoja, ESUTH-Enugu, UPTH-Portharcourt, UBTH-Benin, FNPH-Uselu, FNPH-Aro, LUTH-Lagos, LAUTECH-Osogbo, FMC-Bida, FMC-Owo, JUTH-Jos, ABUTH-Zaria and FMC-Birnin Kebbi.
5) Salary arrears: While doctors share the pains of government over the recession and join hands with government to see that Nigeria comes out of recession, they request like every other citizen the immediate payment of their outstanding salaries ranging from percentages of salaries to outright no salaries, spanning from April to December and affecting almost all the FTHs and STHs.
6) Implementations of July 14th 2016 agreement with government which for simplicity included:
i) circularization of entry level for house officers and medical officers which has suffered conspiracy from FMOH and NSIWC since December 2013;
ii) appropriate placement of newly employed doctors and correction of wrongful placement of previously employed doctors within the years of skipping by other health workers and in line with the 2013 judgement of the National Industrial Court of Nigeria (NICN) and HLB agreements and circulars that annuled CONHESS 10 and CONMESS 2 from the salary structures of health workers and doctors while maintaining seniority and without tampering with our annual incremental steps;
iii) inclusion of resident doctors in the contributory pension scheme, deduction and remittance of our pensions including the counterpart funding from government to our PFAs in line with the Pension Remittance Act of 2014;
iv) universal and uniform residency training programme (RTP) through strict compliance by FTHIs and STHIs to the residency tenure template and the release of the white paper on RTP;
v) special bailout for STHIs through the state governments to enable them pay salaries to workers and upgrade hospital facilities and equipments;
vi) review of the case of all unduly sacked resident doctors, particularly in ABUTH (Zaria), JUTH (Jos) and FMC-Owo;
vii) review with a view to paying December 2015 salaries of doctors in FMC-Owerri who were locked out of duty by FMOH and became victims of the quagmire between FMOH and JOHESU;
viii) FMOH to visit centres unable to pay doctors’ salaries with their appropriate grade levels, compute and transmit the figures to the National Assembly (NASS) for consideration in the supplementary budget. Rather than implementing this simple agreement, the FMOH gave a directive to reverse skipping;
iX) nobody shall be victimized in any form for participating in the industrial dispute; and
x) suspension of doctors’ threat to withdraw services with the assurance that government would address the problems.