The Federal Government yesterday appealed to the National Association of Resident Doctors (NARD) to consider the plight of the 80 percent of the citizenry in need of healthcare, should they withdraw their services.
The Minister of Labour and Employment, Chris Ngige, said the country was in a bad place health wise because of the impact of COVID-19 pandemic on the health sector.
At a conciliatory meeting with the leadership of NARD in Abuja, Ngige said majority of the welfare issues under contention were almost resolved even before the letter of complaint and notification of a planned strike action was delivered at the ministry.
Ngige, before the meeting went into a closed-door session, said the government had started discussions on hazard health allowance for health workers in the country.
“We are here because we have started solving your issues. We put up proposals with given timelines on how to deal with them. We will look at those proposals with you, fix adequate timelines so that the people on government side will be implementing and marking them as they execute them.
“I’ve held informal meetings with the finance ministry and they told me they have started solving some of the problems. The two committees in the National Assembly have also tried to get you and your employers on same page.
“We’ve to intervene to ensure industrial peace in the health industry. We’re also in a very bad period health wise the world over, and Nigeria is not an exception. So, we’ve to think about the generality of Nigerians.
“Because right now, 80 per cent of Nigerians are our patients because of the COVID-19 pandemic. So, we’ve to look at the issues that way and see how we can get the best out of this situation,” he said.
Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Health, Abdullahi Mashi, also appealed to the doctors to reconsider embarking on the strike.
Mashi urged the doctors to reconsider their decision as most of the issues on ground were almost resolved.
“Most of the issues are almost solved, the only thing remaining is to get the commitment of NARD to suspend the strike action. All efforts are being put in place,” Mashi added.
NARD President Dr Uyilawa Okhuaihesuyi said his association looked forward to seeing all issues and grievances resolved at the meeting.
As of the time of filing this report, the resident doctors were in another close-door session with the lawmakers.