By Festus Ahon – Asaba
As Nigeria still grapples on how to contain and treat those already effected with the dreaded coronavirus pandemic, members of the Association of Resident Doctors, ARD at the Federal Medical Centre, FMC, Asaba, Delta State, Thursday night embarked on an indefinite strike over alleged harassment of their members by security operatives enforcing the lockdown order in the capital city.
Briefing newsmen in Asaba, President of the ARD, FMC Asaba chapter, Dr Osifo Patrick Nwabunor accused the Police of constantly harassing their members even when they present valid identification as essential service providers since the lockdown order took effect on April 1.
Alleging that the harassment came to a climax on Thursday when a Doctor who was rushing from Okpanam for an emergency case at the FMC, was stopped and harassed, Nwabunor decried that other Doctors who went for his rescue, were allegedly sprayed with tear gas.
Saying “we are embarking on total shutdown of our services indefinitely until our safety and security is guaranteed,” he said “the association is not callous to embark on the indefinite strike in this trying period of COVID-19 crisis.
“We cannot continue to discharge our life saving functions in an environment of constant threats and insecurity.
These are challenging times in view of the COVID-19 but if our safety is not guaranteed, we will maintain the total shutdown”.
Nwabunor listed conditions on which they would call off their action to include; “no health worker should be harassed when he/she presents a valid means of identification; that items destroyed during the Okpanam issue should be replaced; and that adequate security should be provided within the confines of the hospital, before we will return to work.
Speaking further, he raised alarm about sufficient protective kits for front line health workers for both federal and state hospitals, appealing to the authorities concerned to provide the kits and as well as increase the hazard allowance for front line care givers.
As at the time of filing this report, effort was still being made to reach the Police authority in Delta for comment on the matter.