*Resident doctors agree to suspend strike until July 14
By Chioma Obinna, Simon Ebegbulem, Victoria Ojeme & Gabriel Olawale
Minister of Health, Prof. Isaac Adewole, has directed Chief Medical Directors, CMDs, and medical directors, MDs, of federal government tertiary health institutions to fill the vacancies created by resident doctors who have “abandoned” their training programme.
Apparently disturbed by the directive by the Federal Government to the various teaching hospitals to replace the resident doctors, the leadership of the National Association of Resident Doctors, NARD, has agreed to suspend its strike at a meeting with other health sector stakeholders on Tuesday.
The Association’s leadership also appealed to members to suspend the strike until the next meeting scheduled for July 14.
The decision emanated from the meeting between resident doctors and other stakeholders, organised by the Speaker, House of Representatives, Mr. Yakubu Dogàra in Abuja.
The meeting will reconvene in three weeks to review progress made in the implementation of agreements reached in the meeting slated for July.
Resident doctors a.k.a. trainee doctors, that constitute the main support force and backbone for medical practice in the public sector, embarked on a nationwide strike on Monday, under the auspices of the National Association of Resident Doctors, NARD.
However, according to Boade Akinola, spokesperson of the ministry, the directive is contained in a circular signed by Amina Shamaki, permanent secretary of the ministry.
The circular read: “It has come to the notice of the management of the ministry that some resident doctors in your establishment have voluntarily withdrawn from the residency training program by refusing to report for training without authorisation. public service rule, PSR 030402 (e) is relevant.
“This is in spite of the ongoing negotiations on their demands put forward by the representatives of the National Association of Resident Doctors (NARD) under the auspices of the Nigerian Medical Association.
“In view of this development, you are hereby directed to replace all the doctors that have withdrawn their services, with others from the pool of applicants for the training programs in the various disciplines in order not to create ominous gap in training with attendant disruption of health care delivery in your facility.
“Meanwhile, the ministry is working with the panel on the review of the residency training programme in Nigeria, led by Professor Wole Atoyebi, the registrar of the National Postgraduate Medical College, to fast-track the development of a comprehensive blueprint for postgraduate training of doctors in the country.
“Please, ensure immediate compliance.”
Former President Goodluck Jonathan sacked 16,000 resident doctors on August 14, 2014 for participating in a nationwide strike called by its national body. The doctors were on strike for more than six months during the Ebola outbreak in the country. The doctors, however, were recalled two weeks after the directive.
In a related development, relatives of patients at the University of Benin Teaching Hospital, UBTH, Benin City, yesterday, thronged the hospital to seek the discharge of sick relatives following the death of a fire victim, Mrs. Margaret Edobor, 65, who died at the accident and emergency ward of the hospital, following the ongoing nationwide strike by resident doctors.
The late Edobor, a 65-year-old mother of seven died from an infection at about 2:30pm on Tuesday, was said to have been admitted a month ago but could not continue her treatment due to the strike.
Elder brother of the deceased, Mr Sunday Ogbewe, lamented tthat though his late sister had responded to treatment but gave up the ghost when she could not get adequate care.
“She had a fire accident and she was admitted here (UBTH). When the strike started, there was no doctor; so, she contracted an infection.” He also said that all efforts by the family of the victim to plead with the doctors to attend to her proved abortive as they insisted that they were on strike.