By Katurak Yashim
The National Association of Resident Doctors (NARD) on Monday, suspended its nationwide strike for six weeks to give the Federal Government (FG) time to implement its demands.
Dr Godiya Ishaya, the National President of NARD, said this in an interview with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in Abuja.
Ishaya said that the association reviewed its position due to the commitment the government is showing in implementing its demands.
He said that if the government meets all demands within six weeks, the association will review the suspension and end the strike.
“We did not call off the strike but suspended it for six weeks to give room for the government to do the needful.
“If the government does what is required of it, we will review the suspension in six weeks and decide on what steps to take next.
“The agreement between NARD and the FG was signed early this year, it is the issue of implementation that led us to the strike.
“We agreed to suspend the strike because we saw that the government was beginning to show commitment.
Ishaya said that the government’s commitment pushed the association to hold an emergency National Executive Committee (NEC) meeting to review its stand.
According to the NARD president, when you are on the negotiating table, you have to shift some ground; when you see that the other party is ready to shift their ground, you reconsider.
He recalled that when the strike commenced, the government had insisted on its position of taking the association to court but it reconsidered and tried to negotiate with the association.
“The government extended its goodwill to the association,” Ishaya said.
He said that since the government decided to shift grounds by making tangible efforts to meet the association’s demands, the association has also decided to reciprocate by suspending the strike.
He said that the suspension would also give the association time to monitor the government’s implementation of its demands
“Our decision is in line with any system of negotiation where if the other party shifts grounds, you also should shift grounds that is the reason we held an emergency congress meeting and decided on the suspension.
“The suspension was decided upon even though many members did not agree with it. By suspending the strike, the association is putting the government on trial again just as we have always done.
“This will allow us to see if the government will keep to its promise. We have considered that we have masses in our midst who cannot afford to travel abroad for medical tourism and do not have the means to go to private hospitals.
“These individuals are the ones bearing the brunt of the strike hence the need to suspend the strike to enable them to access health services.
Ishaya urged all resident doctors to resume work trusting that the leadership of the association will do all it can to ensure that the government implements the agreement signed with the association.
He said that the implementation of the association’s demands by the federal government would be monitored to the latter in the coming weeks.
“We do not like going on strike because we have been trained to care for people medically and we should be seen to be doing that.
“It is in that light that we also agreed to suspend the strike while reviewing the government’s response.
NAN reports that the NARD strike began on Aug. 1.
Some of the demands made by NARD include immediate salary payment to all house officers and an upward review of the current hazard allowance to 50 per cent of consolidated salaries of all health workers.
Other demands are payment of outstanding COVID-19 allowance and payment of death in service insurance for all health workers, who died as a result of COVID-19 infection, or other infectious diseases in the country.
NARD also insists that salary shortfalls of 2014, 2015, and 2016, owed members in state and federal health institutions be paid.
Since the commencement of the strike by NARD, healthcare delivery in state and federal public health facilities has remained epileptic with only consultants and NYSC doctors available in most facilities to cater to the health needs of the public. (NAN)