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Doctors strike in Nigeria

The Nigerian Association of Resident Doctors (NARD) announced a five-day warning strike following the failure of the Federal Government to meet its demands. The strike, which began on May 17th, will end on May 22nd, 2023, at 8 am. This decision was reached after an extraordinary National Executive Council meeting held virtually on Monday, May 15th, 2023.

The doctors are demanding an immediate increase in the Consolidated Medical Salary Structure (CONMESS) to the tune of 200% of the current gross salaries of doctors. They also want the immediate withdrawal of the bill seeking to compel medical and dental graduates to render five-year compulsory services in Nigeria before being granted full licenses to practice.

Furthermore, they demand the immediate implementation of CONMESS, domestication of the Medical Residency Training Act, and a review of hazard allowance by all state governments as well as private tertiary health institutions where any form of residency training is done.

Doctors strike in Nigeria
Doctors strike in Nigeria

It is not the first time that such a strike has occurred in Nigeria. In 2021, Nigerian doctors went on strike involving members of the Nigerian Association of Resident Doctors (NARD). The strike lasted for three weeks, and it was caused by pay disputes between the union and the Federal government of Nigeria. NARD claimed that the government had reneged on an agreement reached following the end of the last strike in April.

In 2020, resident doctors embarked on an indefinite nationwide strike following the expiration of the 14-day ultimatum issued to the Federal Government. Among the demands of the doctors were the immediate implementation of the revised hazard allowance and payment of the COVID-19 inducement allowance as “agreed by government and healthcare workers” three months ago.

Between 2014 and 2020, there were at least 20 strikes by healthcare workers in Nigeria, with the majority being carried out by doctors.

Unfortunately, the strikes by doctors and health sectors have become all too common in Nigeria. These strikes have led to the loss of many lives, increased suffering and worsened the health sector.

The Nigeria Medical Association (NMA) has expressed concerns about the negative impact of these strikes on the health sector. They urged the government to urgently address the demands of the NARD to prevent further harm to patients.

In response to the current strike, the Federal Government stated that negotiations were ongoing with stakeholders over the five-day warning strike embarked upon by members of the National Association of Resident Doctors (NARD).

It is imperative for the government to put a permanent end to this cycle of strikes by addressing the legitimate demands of doctors and health workers. The government must recognize the importance of efficient healthcare delivery and the urgent need to invest in the sector. This includes improving pay and working conditions for healthcare workers.

It is vital for the government to prioritize the health sector and ensure that the demands of doctors and healthcare workers are met. It is unacceptable for Nigerians to continue to suffer due to avoidable strikes. Therefore, we call on the government to take immediate action to resolve the current strike and prevent future strikes.

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