Nigerian Resident Doctors Commence Nationwide Indefinite Strike Over Unmet Demands
The Nigerian Association of Resident Doctors (NARD) is set to embark on a nationwide indefinite strike starting from 8 am today, following the failure of the Federal Government to meet their demands. The decision was reached after the association’s National Executive Council (NEC) meeting held in Lagos State.
The doctors had given the government a two-week ultimatum, which expired on July 19, to implement the resolutions of the Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) agreed upon with them. Some of the key demands put forth by the doctors include a review of the Consolidated Medical Salary Structure (CONMESS), payment of the 2023 Medical Residency Training Fund (MRTF), issuance of a circular by the Federal Ministry of Health for the replacement of doctors and nurses who have left the system, and payment of salary arrears.
Among the other demands are improvements in hazard allowances by State Governments and full salary restoration rather than just an increment, as the doctors seek to tackle the issue of brain drain in the country.
Speaking with The Nation, Dr. Emeka Orji, the President of NARD, expressed the frustration of its members over the government’s lack of action in fulfilling the agreed-upon MoU. Dr. Orji cited the critical issue of one-for-one replacement of doctors and nurses who have left the healthcare system, which has not been addressed despite a government policy being announced in February.
The government had promised to release the implementation guideline for this policy, but as of almost the end of July, nothing has been done. The doctors assert that the delay has resulted in a significant burden on healthcare facilities and personnel, leading to burnout, breakdowns, and, in some cases, death.
Additionally, the doctors raised concerns about the delay in releasing the Medical Residency Training Fund (MRTF) allocated in the budget for 2023 and the failure to conduct an upward review of the consolidated medical salary structure to address inflation and other economic factors.
In response to the situation, the doctors are demanding salary arrears owed to them for 2014, 2015, and 2016, alongside other unresolved issues. They emphasize that the restoration of their salaries to the value of 2014 is crucial to retain medical professionals within the country and mitigate the effects of brain drain.
Dr. Orji appealed to the government to promptly address their demands, releasing the required circular for one-for-one replacement, paying the MRTF, and commencing negotiations with clear timelines for resolving other outstanding matters. He stated that such actions would be instrumental in convincing the doctors to reconsider their strike and provide more time for resolving the remaining issues.