From Oluseye Ojo, Ibadan
Association of Resident Doctors (ARD), University College Hospital (UCH), Ibadan, on Thursday recorded 100 per cent compliance with the nationwide strike declared by the association’s national body, National Association of Resident Doctors (NARD) over failure of the Federal Government to accede to demands of resident doctors in the past one year.
The President, ARD, UCH, Dr. Temitope Hussain, who disclosed this during an interview with journalists, stated that the management of the teaching hospital reached out to the association for, at least, skeletal services. The association, he said insisted on a total and indefinite strike to press home their demands.
But he said consultants in the health facility are not on strike and they would be attending to patients, though he noted that the resident doctors are the ones doing 85 to 90 per cent of the medical work in the hospital.
According to Hussain, “We commenced the strike April 1, 2021 and it is a total indefinite strike. We hope that government will accede to our demands so that we can call the strike off. First of all, our number one demand is that our members should be paid. For UCH, about 373 of our members have not been paid. Our house officers have not been paid for three months, and that is why we started this strike. Other cadre of doctors, resident doctors and medical officers, about 233 of them, have not also been paid their January, February and March salaries. So, those are parts of our demands.
“Of course, we have also requested for increase in our hazard allowances, which is currently N5,000. The government has acceded to it that they’re going to increase it to 50 per cent of our salaries, but that has not been implemented. The agreement has been made for close to a year now.
“We also know about COVID-19 pandemic that is ongoing. The government has said that they would give us COVID-19 allowance, which they have done for only three months. The saddest one is that some of our members have passed on because of this COVID-19 infections. Then, no life insurance has been paid for our deceased colleagues.
“For some of these demands, we have been on them since March 2020. And for this particular strike, an ultimatum was given to the government in January. So, this is the third month and those demands have not been met to prevent us from embarking on this strike. So, since that year, we have made several contacts with political office holders, particularly the House of Representatives. The Chairman of the House Committee on Health, Dr. Sunmonu, has been very helpful in trying to get the Federal Government to accede to our demands. But we have not been successful as we speak.”
Hussain, however, appealed to members of the public to help them “appeal to the government to be responsible. Our demands are very simple, and they are understandable because of the nature of the work we do. It is not fair when a doctor who needs to see patients has not been paid for three months. The worse thing is that we all know about the ongoing brain drain, we have new fresh doctors, coming in that have just had their first employment, not being paid, for the first three months of their getting employed as doctors. The next option for them will be to leave the country. That might be an option on the table for them. It is a very feasible option because they would feel depressed about how the nation has treated them as young doctors.”