By Ike Uchechukwu – Calabar
The Nigerian Medical Association in Cross River State has suspended the strike which it embarked upon on March 12, following the kidnap of the wife of their colleague, Mrs Christiana Ekanem in Calabar.
Vanguard gathered that Mrs Ekanem was kidnapped from her home in Calabar on March 10, and was released on March 21 after spending 11 days in the kidnapper’s den.
The suspension of the strike was contained in a communique jointly signed on Monday by the NMA Chairman in the state, Dr Agam Ayuk, and the Secretary, Dr Ezoke Epoke, both from the University of Calabar Teaching Hospital.
“The indefinite withdrawal of medical services in both private and public hospitals across the state is hereby suspended and medical and dental practitioners in Cross River are directed to resume duties immediately.
“The Association remains grateful to everyone who supported the family and the Association to ensure her safe release.
“The poor security situation in Cross River remains a daily reality as citizens continue to live in fear; we therefore reiterate our call on the state government to show more political will and urgently put measures in place to secure lives and properties as her primary constitutional responsibility.
“NMA sincerely hopes that this is the last time, she would have to take the difficult decision of withdrawing medical services in the event of the kidnapping of her members and also hopes that our collective resolve will not be put to test again”, he said.
He added that NMA will not fail to invoke its collective resolve of Jan. 8, 2018 which state that “NMA in Cross River shall withdraw all medical services without any notice anytime a doctor or dependent is taken captive in future”.
He appealed to the state government to provide security for all residents in the state with a view to help them discharge their duties of saving lives accordingly.
“The Covid-19 pandemic is a reality with increasing number of confirmed cases which stands at 35 in Nigeria as reported by the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control and the Federal Ministry of Health as at the time of this press release.
“We therefore call on the state government to enforce ban on large gathering and review to a more stringent limited number as the risk increase. We advise citizens to take seriously recommended guidelines on social distancing, hand hygiene and respiratory hygiene.
“NMA in Cross River shall be donating hand sanitizers to public and private hospitals across the state to support the efforts of government at preventing and containing Covid-19.
“The Association calls on well-meaning Crossriverians, politicians and philanthropists to make donations of monetary or medical equipment to hospitals across the state”, he said.
Ayuk disclosed that NMA would be working with professional bodies like National Association of Nigeria Nurses and Midwives, Pharmaceutical Society of Nigeria, Association of Medical Laboratory Scientists of Nigeria and others to ensure that hospitals have Standard Operating Procedures to guarantee safety of health care workers.
“The risk of healthcare workers becoming infected is more than three times as high as the general population.
“We therefore call on government and management of hospitals to ensure that all healthcare workers have running water and sanitisers for proper hand hygiene, wear regular surgical masks and use gloves for all patients interaction”, he said.