Femi Folaranmi, Yenafoa
The Bayelsa State Government has urged resident doctors in its employ to call off their industrial action as government is doing everything possible to address their grievances.
Governor Douye Diri made the plea during a meeting between the state government and representatives of the Association of Resident Doctors and the state chapter of the Nigerian Medical Association (NMA) in Government House, Yenagoa.
Represented by his deputy, Senator Lawrence Ewhrudjakpo, the governor maintained that his administration was already addressing two out of the three major demands of the Association.
Emphasizing the need to for industrial harmony, Senator Diri equally noted that the state is experiencing a major health crisis following the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic which had ravaged tens of thousands of lives in the country.
His words: “We are aware of your working conditions which have been compounded by the COVID-19 pandemic. Health facilities are overstretched in the country and so this is not the right time to go on strike.
“But let me assure you that two of the three hot issues you have raised in this meeting are already being tackled by the present administration because of the premium we place on our health sector.
“Like you rightly pointed out earlier, these issues have been lingering before the present administration came in. But we are making frantic efforts to address most of the issues.
“For instance, on the issue of employment, His Excellency, the Governor graciously approved the employment of some doctors and nurses in the NDUTH as we came on board.
“So, we appeal to all Resident Doctors not to continue with your strike action.
There is a spike in the cases of COVID-19 and the state government is doing all it can to contain the spread of the dreaded virus.”
According to him, it is incumbent on doctors and other medical personnel to uphold their Hippocratic Oath to save lives.
Senator Diri expressed his administration’s gratitude to the sacrifices and invaluable contributions being made by doctors and other health practitioners, particularly in the handling of the COVID-19 infection and other epidemics in the past.
The governor, therefore, assured that everything would be done within available resources to tackle the challenges facing them.
He said the present administration places high premium on workers welfare and wellbeing which it had demonstrated in the prompt payment of workers’ salaries, as well as pensioners’ gratuities and allowances.
Earlier in their remarks, President, Association of Resident Doctors (ARD), Niger Delta University Teaching Hospital (NDUTH), Okolobiri, Dr. Oru Inetsol and his predecessor, Dr Tuko Evans identified the disparity in earnings between doctors working in federal and state-owned health institutions due to improper placement in terms of salary scale.
Other pressing needs, according to them, include enhanced hazard allowance for medical personnel, acute shortage of manpower and upgrading of the health facilities, particularly at the NDUTH.