By Abujah Racheal
The National Assembly has appealed to National Association of Resident Doctors (NARD) to embrace every opportunity presented on the way forward toward addressing their grievances so as to return to the hospitals as quickly as possible.
The lawmakers said on Monday in Abuja that the striking doctors should embrace all overtures toward industrial harmony as the rollout of phase two of coronavirus vaccination programme could not be effectively achieved without them.
Their position was presented by the Chairman, Senate Committee on Health, Sen. Ibrahim Oloriegbe.
He spoke at the official flag off of the rollout of vaccines involving the 4,000,080 Moderna vaccines doses donated by the United States of America.
Also rolled out was the 177,600 Johnson and Johnson vaccines doses, a single-shot vaccine under the African Vaccine Acquisition Trust (AVAT).
“As we speak today, we have some sections of health workers who are not working. For ethical delivery of vaccines, we need health workers.
“Human resource is a huge challenge in our country. I want to call on our colleagues, who are on strike, to please avail themselves of all opportunities of negotiations that government has given.
“The resources they’re asking for have already been provided and are being processed, so I want to ask the resident doctors to please go back to work.
“I want to assure all Nigerians that the National Assembly is working collaboratively with the executive arm and other stakeholders to resolve these human resource challenges in Nigeria.
“It is a huge issue because if you have the money, if you have the materials, we need men to get healthcare delivered, and we assure Nigerians that we shall handle this.”
He also reiterated that the 9th National Assembly had been working together with the executive arm to ensure Nigeria produced vaccines locally since 2020.
He said that resources had been allocated to commence the process, adding that it was for such reason that the sum of N10 billion was allocated in the 2020 budget.
In a remark, the Secretary to the Government of the Federation and Chairman, Presidential Steering Committee (PSC) on COVID-19, Boss Mustpha, commended the health workers for their sacrifices toward tackling the pandemic.
According to him, Nigeria’s effective response to COVID-19 has been rated fourth in the world by the Global Normalcy Index.
“We remain eternally grateful to your services and I will lean my voice to the senator when he called on resident doctors to respond to every invitation of negotiation and discussions so that we can bring to an end the current strike action.”
Mustapha commended the leadership of the National Assembly for the support received by the then Presidential Task Force (PTF) on COVID-19 and now the Presidential Steering Committee (PSC), in crafting the COVID-19 response and its execution.
He also commended development partners for the solid support and confidence they exhibited to PTF, and now PSC, and in convincing their nations and agencies to grant Nigeria maximum support in its activities as it approached a virus that was novel to the entire world.
The SGF also commended the press for demonstrating patriotism and engaging in the response as they have never done before.
“The press has toiled day and might; you have been on the frontline, committed yourselves and some of you have made the supreme sacrifice,” he noted.
The Speaker of the House of Representatives, Femi Gbajabiamila, enjoined Nigerians to embrace vaccination, assuring all that it was very safe.
Gbajabiamila, who was represented by Dr Haruna Mshelia, said: “This is the time for everyone to fully rally around the government. The vaccines being introduced in Nigeria are very safe and effective.”
He commended the executive arm for what they have done as regards the nation’s COVID-19 response which had been recognized globally.
He, however said that “if we are to move forward, and to keep this kind of intervention sustainable, Nigeria must begin to manufacture vaccines.
“The way forward is to start manufacturing vaccines so that we too can start donating vaccines to poorer countries like America has done,” he said. (NAN)