THE Federal Government yesterday, gave indications that it may not accede to demands of National Association of Resident Doctors (NARD) members protesting non-payment of their COVID-19 hazard allowance and other conditions of service.
In this direction, government has ordered chief medical directors and managing directors of federal tertiary hospitals to immediately commence the use of consultants and doctors on National Youth Service Corps (NYSC) to provide routine services.
Federal Minister of Health, Dr. Osagie Ehanire, gave the directive in a statement issued in Abuja.
According to Ehanire, government also directed that locum staffers should be brought in when and where necessary to forestall services disruption when applicable and affordable.
“It is with deep concern that l view the ongoing strike by the Nigerian Association of Resident Doctors which commenced Tuesday, September 7, 2020. We must remember that the primary duty of doctors and all health workers is to save lives. Embarking on a strike in this time that the country is battling with the COVlD-19 pandemic is ill-timed and ill-advised. It is a critical time in which all well-meaning medical professionals should close ranks and confront the common enemy, which is the COVlD-I9 pandemic threatening mankind. This is therefore one strike too many. Besides, most of the demands have been met and others though difficult, are at an advanced stage of implementation. A little patience would have made a big difference,” he said.
Meanwhile, the Minister of State for Health, Senator Olorunibe Mamora disclosed yesterday that federal government has paid N20 billion to the striking doctors.
According to him, it is regrettable that the kind of situation is happening at this point in time when the nation is grappling with a pandemic because N5,000 hazard allowance for doctors and health workers in the country which has been in existence for about 30 years was suspended for the period of the pandemic.
“We have been able to pay the COVID-19 inducement allowance because we had to suspend the hazard allowance for this period so that we can go into renegotiation after. We are now paying starting from 50 per cent of the basic of the workers depending on where the point of operation is. We were able to pay April, May full, June, part of it has been paid but not fully paid and it is because of the economic situation and these funds have to be sourced for one way or the other. We’ve been able to disburse close to N20bn and I repeat close to 20bn. So, to now say nothing has been done, that is not true,” he said.