The Nigerian National Association of Resident Doctors (NARD) on Monday began an indefinite strike over delayed payment of salaries and allowances, insurance benefits, pay rise, and poor facilities as the country faces a third wave of coronavirus, reported Reuters.
Okhuaihesuyi Uyilawa, the president of NARD, said the strike had started early on Monday and that the government had not yet reached out to the union since it gave notice of the strike.
“The nationwide strike started at 8 am. It’s an indefinite strike,” Uyilawa told AFP news agency. “There will be no exemption for doctors handling COVID-19 cases.”
He said that the doctors’ association has appealed to the government to pay insurance benefits for 19 doctors who have died in the line of duty. He said that his union represented 16,000 resident doctors out of a total of 42,000 doctors in Africa’s most populous country.
Uyilawa added that the strike would not be suspended until the union’s demands were met.
The doctors union called off a 10-day strike in April that completely paralyzed the health services and activities in the country.
In a statement, the Nigerian health minister said that the ministry is in talks with the striking doctors to resolve the issues quickly, adding that medical directors should ensure service delivery is not disrupted.
Nigeria, with a population of 210 million, has officially recorded 174,315 COVID-19 cases and 2,149 deaths since the first case of the virus in February 2020. But the real figures are believed to be much higher, in part because of low testing rates.
Last month, the Nigerian Centre for Disease Control detected the more contagious Delta coronavirus variant, putting officials on alert for the third wave of infections in the country.
In related news, the Nigerian government received a shipment of 4.08 million Moderna vaccines on Sunday donated by the government of the United States of America.