Strike: FG, doctors need compromise for public good - Abuja residents
On June 15, 2020, the National Association of Resident Doctors, NARSD, embarked on an indefinite strike over failure of government to provide adequate personal protective equipment, PPE, for colleagues on the frontline battling the covid-19 pandemic. On the same day, the country recorded 573 new cases bringing to a total of 16,658 cases with a cumulative death toll of 424 Nigerians. Given these realities, the strike prompted condemnation from some members of the public, but some Abuja residents who spoke to David LAWANI and Williams ABAH gave reasons why the doctors are not to blame.
Look, you cannot totally blame the National Association of Resident Doctors, NARD, for embarking on strike. I came across a communique issued and signed by NARD last week, and I was pained. These are people who are at the frontline of treating patients infected with coronavirus, yet there is no adequate personal protective equipment, PPE, for their safety.
Welfare is a secondary issue. If you read the communiqué issued last week, they emphasized that their colleagues at the frontline against Covid-19 are at risk of contracting the virus. Some of them are dying secretly as a result of being infected with the virus.
Covid-19 is a communicable disease. Nobody can work in an unsafety environment. I can tell you that health workers are more patriotic and committed to their duties than any other profession. These are people who work 24 hours. They don't have time to stay with their families because of the nature of their job.
Resident doctors need proper attention from the government. Their plight should not be neglected. I have heard people saying the action of the striking workers was tantamount to "wickedness".
I understand the public apprehension. But there is no better time than now for resident doctors to embark on strike. They have pressed home their demands at different times, but government is not serious to address them. The discrepancy on the payment of salary and allowances among the health workers is one that demoralises some of the workers.
Resident doctors have raised this issue with the government and nothing was done to address the imbalance. Even at the heat of this Covid-19, hazard allowance has not been paid to those at the frontline against the pandemic. How do we see motivation in such scenario? People risk their lives to save the lives of other people, yet their welfare is not well taken care of. I think stakeholders need to come together to resolve this issue. As we speak, patients are suffering. Something urgent needs to be done.
For me, the strike by NARD is uncalled for. I understand their plight, but this is not the time for them to press home their demands. Health workers play a sensitive role in saving the lives of people. As we speak, the whole world is battling a pandemic without a cure in sight.
Those infected by the virus are currently in various health centres. Who is going to take care of them? NARD’s leadership ought to have gone into negotiations with the federal government and resolve all contending issues.
For the sake of critically ill Nigerians and the oath they took to save lives, they should have had a rethink and display some patriotism. I do not think industrial action can change government’s disposition on welfare matters.
Government knows what the right thing to do is, but deliberately refused to do it. Any responsible government should know that health is a very sensitive issue. Why would the government toy with the welfare of workers in that sector?
ANTHONY UGONNA KENNEDY:
Strikes are common in Nigeria’s public health system with doctors frequently seeking for pay rise. Again, they have gone on another strike asking the government to meet their demands within two weeks. I personally think it’s wrong to do something like this at this critical time.
With rising infections and deaths from Covid-19, without no cure available, it’s wrong to do something like this at this time. At least the doctors should have waited till the pandemic is over before going on strike. Nigeria has more than 16,000 confirmed cases of the virus and over 400 deaths. So I think this is a wrong time to go on strike.
CHRISTIANA SAMUEL: it is wrong for doctors to go on strike during a pandemic. But on the other hand, you can't blame them because you can't have people working for you without paying them their dues.
Doctors also have families; they have kids and people to care for. It doesn't make any sense that they work so hard without being paid. These are people who are supposed to look after the patients. So I think government needs to do something fast to resolve this crisis.
SAMUEL IBITOYE: It is sad that such a thing is repeating itself in Nigeria when the country is grappling with covid-19.
I won’t really blame the doctors because they have families to take care of. Now, what is the government doing with all the millions and billions donated for the fight against covid-19? These are people who are supposed to be treating and caring for those infected with covid-19. Or is that one also a lie?
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