According to a report by The PUNCH, the Federal Government has begun discussions with doctors.
The government commenced discussions with the Nigerian Association of Resident Doctors over the demands of the doctors.
The PUNCH learnt that some NARD executive members are in Abuja meeting with officials of relevant government’s Ministries, Departments and Agencies.
The PUNCH had earlier reported that resident doctors had, on July 30, 2022, issued a two-week ultimatum to the Federal Government to implement all the agreements it had with the association or it would embark on an indefinite strike.
The ultimatum expires on Sunday, August 14.
The association’s demand include the payment of the newly reviewed Medical Residency Training Fund; the immediate implementation and payment of the new hazard allowance and arrears among several others.
Speaking in separate interviews with our correspondent, the association’s Secretary General, Dr Suleiman Abiodun; and Publicity Secretary, Dr Yusuf Alfa, disclosed that the meetings with the MDAs are “behind the scenes” and not official.
Abiodun said, “We are just doing some advocacy visits to some relevant stakeholders so that we can push most of these demands from wherever they are to levels of implementing them.
“We are only calling on the government to do their part. We shelved the strike last year with the believe that the government has shown commitment, but we want other issues that are outstanding to be addressed.”
Asked if the doctors would go on strike at the expiration of the ultimatum if the government does not meet their demands, Abiodun said the National Executive Council would meet to decide on it.
“The decision to issue an ultimatum was that of the NEC and the council will meet to chart a way forward, expectedly on Sunday; but we are looking at how we will solve the issues before that time,” he said.
Alfa, on the other hand, said, “We are meeting government officials as regards how to solve the issues before the expiration of the ultimatum.
“So far, so good, we are getting some positive responses from those we are meeting, but it has not transmitted to what we want. On the state governors owing our members months of salaries, some of them promised to pay part of it but nothing has been done.
“As regards the hazard allowance and Medical Residency Training Fund, there is some progress being made even though it’s slow, but we will hope that all of these are resolved before the expiration of our ultimatum.
Reacting, former NARD President, Uyilawa Okhuaihesuyi, said, “These issues have been on for years, we embarked on a strike because of the issues last year; some were addressed but some were not addressed. We hope that the health sector will not go back to strike if the government meets the demands.
“The government should live up to the expectations, especially with the agreements reached earlier; that will help to prevent the strike,” he said.
Also, a former Chairman of the Medical Guild, Lagos, Dr Oluwajimi Sodipo, said, “Already we are having challenges in the health sector with high attrition of healthcare workers, especially doctors and nurses. So, if there is a fresh strike, it will worsen the health indices we are having already and people will further lose confidence in the health sector; it will worsen the attrition,” he said.
Our correspondent contacted the Minister of Health, Dr Osagie Ehanire, for comments, but he did not respond to calls or the text message sent to him as of the time of filing this report.