The management of Federal government hospitals in Nigeria has been directed to replace resident doctors with members of the National Youth Service Corps (NYSC) in order to carry out their services optimally.
The minister of health, Osagie Ehanire gave this command in a statement as part of efforts to “ease the effect” of the strike by resident doctors across the country.
Recalled that the National Association of Resident Doctors (NARD) had embarked on a nationwide strike on Monday over the non-payment of their COVID-19 hazard allowance and other demands.
The minister, however, said the strike is ill-timed and ill-advised, given the COVID-19 pandemic.
Ehanire noted that the doctors that their primary responsibility is to save lives, adding that it is expected of them to work together to confront COVID-19, “the common enemy”.
“We must remember that the primary duty of doctors and all health workers is to save lives. Embarking on a strike in this time that the country is battling with the COVID-19 pandemic is ill-timed and ill-advised,” he said.
“It is a critical time in which all well-meaning medical professionals should close ranks and confront the common enemy, which is the COVID-19 pandemic threatening mankind.
“This is, therefore, one strike too many. Besides, most of the demands have been met and others, though difficult, are at an advanced stage of implementation. A little patience would have made a big difference.”
To address the absence of the resident doctors as a result of the industrial action, Ehanire gave federal health institutions four guidelines to comply with.
“COVID-19 treatment outlets should continue to function as before; emergency services should continue to run as before; routine services should be maintained with consultants, NYSC Doctors; locum staffers to be brought in when and where necessary to forestall services disruption when applicable and affordable,” he said.
“I call on the NARD to return to work and engage the Federal Government in completing the ongoing due process of implementing the MoU between NARD and government.
“I wish to assure the general public that measures have been put in place to ensure that they continue to access services at all our federal tertiary hospitals across the country,” Ehanire added.