Paul Osuyi, Asaba
Members of the Association of Resident Doctors (ARD) at the Federal Medical Centre (FMC), Asaba, Delta State on Thursday night withdrew their services, indefinitely, over alleged harassment by security operatives enforcing the lockdown directive.
The lockdown order was issued by the state government as a measure to prevent the spread of the dreaded Coronavirus disease otherwise known as COVID-19.
President of the ARD, Asaba FMC chapter, Osifo Patrick Nwabunor told newsmen that since the lockdown started on April 1, health workers have been witnessing constant harassment allegedly by the police even when they present valid means of identification as essential service providers.
Nwabunor alleged that the harassment came to a climax on Thursday when a doctor who was rushing to Okpanam for an emergency, was stopped and harassed, adding that when other colleagues came to his rescue, they were allegedly sprayed with teargas.
He said as a result of the constant harassment, the doctors were embarking on “total shutdown of their services indefinitely until our safety and security is guaranteed.”
Nwabunor stated that the association was not callous to embark on the indefinite strike in this trying period of COVID-19 crisis, but that they cannot continue to discharge their life-saving functions in an environment of constant threats and insecurity.
“These are challenging times in view of the COVID-19 but if our safety is not guaranteed, we will maintain the total shutdown,” he stated.
Nwabunor listed three conditions including that no health worker should be harassed when he/she presents a valid means of identification; that items destroyed during the Okpanam issue should replaced; and that adequate security should be provided within the confines of the hospital, before they would return to work.
He also raised alarm about the paucity of protective kits for front line health workers across both federal and state hospitals, and appealed to the authorities concerned to provide the kits and as well as increase the hazard allowance for front line care givers.