The Federal Government on Monday began negotiation with the Nigerian Association of Resident Doctors (NARD) with a view to get them to shelve their planned strike as the nation needs their cooperation to successfully battle the COVID-19 pandemic.
The Minister of Health, Dr Osagie Ehanire has also begged the resident doctors not to carry out their threat to go on indefinite strike at the expiration of the 14-day ultimatum issued to the government.
The minister, however, assured the resident doctors that as a member of the Nigeria Medical Association (NMA) himself, he understood their position and “will make sure we see to your needs.”
The Nigerian Association of Resident Doctors (NARD) had on Saturday threatened that its members would proceed on a “total and indefinite strike”, if the Federal Government failed to address their demands within 14 days.
The association, in a communique issued at the end of its virtual 40th Ordinary General Meeting (OGM) and Scientific Conference, lamented the poor working condition of its members across the country.
NARD stated that some of its members were harassed, intimidated and maltreated in Lagos, Kaduna, Plateau State and the FCT in the course of performing their lawful duty.
It, therefore, gave a 14-day ultimatum within which the government should address their demand or face a total and indefinite strike.
But the Minister of Health said at the daily briefing by the Presidential Task Force on COVID-19 in Abuja on Monday that the Federal Government team led by the Minister of Labour and Productivity, Chris Ngige, has commenced negotiation with the resident doctors.
Dr Ehanire said: “As we speak, negotiation is going on with the Minister of Labour. The permanent secretary of the Ministry of Health is there representing us. Many of the points raised by resident doctors are issues that have easy solution that can be resolved. Some of them are actually from way back, they are not new.”
The minister also stated that the other issue regarding Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) is being addressed, adding, “the ones regarding the Personal Protective Equipment (PPE); that is also being addressed. PPE are being supplied as requested and as needed.”
He added: “There was a time in the past when we had some constraints but we have actually gone pass that level now and there are plans to continue to increase the supply of PPE that we have.
“So, I also used the opportunity to speak with the resident’s doctors. I urged them not to carry out that threat at this time. Everything is being done to make sure all the questions are answered and I also want to say if they have any kind of grudges of that nature in future, they should use the avenue of communication.
“My office is always open and they can call me up or write to me to discuss these issues at the ministerial level before it gets to the public level, to use all avenues of collaboration.
“All of us are members of NMA and we too were once resident doctors, so we understand your position and we will make sure we see to your needs.”
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