In a significant development, the Nigerian Association of Resident Doctors (NARD) has officially halted its nationwide strike that commenced over two weeks ago due to unresolved grievances.
The association’s President, Emeka Orji, confirmed this encouraging turnaround in an exclusive statement to our publication on Saturday morning.
Mr. Orji announced that the doctors are now directed to resume their duties by 8 a.m. today (Saturday), marking a pivotal step toward normalizing healthcare operations across the country. This decision is accompanied by a keen awareness that progress made over the next two weeks will be meticulously reviewed to ensure that the fundamental concerns raised by the association are adequately addressed.
“We have just suspended the strike. Work is set to resume at 8 a.m. on Saturday,” stated Mr. Orji. “Our ongoing efforts will be scrutinized and evaluated in a fortnight.”
The impetus for the strike was rooted in the Nigerian government’s failure to meet the multifaceted demands of the resident doctors. The key points of contention encompass a spectrum of issues, including the immediate disbursement of the 2023 Medical Residency Training Fund (MRTF), substantial strides towards enhancing the Consolidated Medical Salary Structure (CONMESS), and the eradication of longstanding salary arrears dating back to 2015.
Among their requisites, the doctors are resolute in their plea for a swift and substantial influx of clinical personnel in hospitals, coupled with the elimination of bureaucratic hurdles that stifle the seamless replacement of departing doctors and nurses. The resident doctors also call for an urgent reassessment of hazard allowances by state governments and private tertiary health institutions involved in any facet of residency training.
Throughout the duration of the strike, essential healthcare services in major regions of the country were adversely affected. The resident doctors form the core of medical personnel in Nigeria’s tertiary medical institutions, rendering healthcare activities exceptionally vulnerable whenever their services are withdrawn.
This turn of events follows the initial announcement of a planned daily peaceful protest by the striking doctors, originally slated to begin on Wednesday. The decision emerged in response to the Nigerian government’s directive for federal tertiary hospitals to enforce a “no work, no pay” policy against the striking medical professionals. However, following a behind-the-scenes meeting with key Senate officials on Tuesday, the doctors opted to suspend the anticipated protest, evidently favoring a more constructive route toward achieving their aspirations.