Nigeria’s National Association of Resident Doctors (NARD) announced an indefinite strike starting Monday midnight over their demand for better benefits, including the provision of more protective equipment, as they battle the coronavirus pandemic, reported Reuters.
“A decision to commence on a total indefinite strike with exemption only for COVID-19 treatment centres has been taken,” the NARD, which represents some 40 percent of Nigeria’s doctors, noted in a tweet.
Aliyu Sokomba, the president of NARD, said doctors treating coronavirus cases will continue with their work. However, he warned that they would be forced to join the strike if the government refuses to meet its demands within the next two weeks.
“If the government fails to meet our minimum demands within two weeks, the resident doctors working in (COVID-19) isolation centres will automatically join the strike,” Sokomba said in a statement.
The doctor’s group has pointed out that unavailability of protective equipment to treat COVID-19 patients. According to the group, 10 doctors have died so far from the highly infectious respiratory disease. It is now demanding life insurance for doctors, a COVID-19 pay supplement, and an increase in funds in the federal budget for their training, among other demands.
In response, Health Minister Osagie Ehanire made an appeal to all resident doctors not to go on a strike, but come to the table to discuss the issues they face. He assured them that the government will provide them with all the materials they need to work including PPE and that all of the issues raised will be attended to.
The Nigeria Center for Disease Control (NCDC) on Sunday said COVID-19 cases have crossed 16,000 mark in Nigeria with 420 deaths, amid a shortage in a testing capacity. Most of the cases have been reported in Lagos, sub-Saharan Africa’s biggest city of 20 million inhabitants.