Doctors Suspend Strike as FG Sacks Them

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Paul Obi and Damilola Oyedele in Abuja with agency report

The leadership of the National Association of Resident Doctors (NARD) on Tuesday agreed to suspend its strike after a meeting with other health sector stakeholders.

The association’s leadership also appealed to members to relax until the next meeting scheduled for July 14.
The decision emanated from the meeting between resident doctors and other stakeholders, organised by the Speaker of the House of Representatives, Yakubu Dogàra.

The meeting, according to an online news portal, The Cable, would be reconvenes in three weeks to review progress made in the implementation of agreements reached in the meeting slated for July.
However, the federal government is yet to react to the suspension of the strike action, meaning that an earlier order to replace all those who have down tools is still in force.
Meanwhile, the federal government had yesterday sacked all the resident doctors who went on strike to protest the government’s inability to address their demands.

In a statement signed by the Director of Press, Federal Ministry of Health, Mrs. Boade Akinola, the government directed head of all federal health institutions to fill all the vacancies created by the strike embarked upon by NARD members.

According to the statement, “The Minister of Health, Prof. Isaac Adewole, has directed the Chief Medical Directors (CMDs) and Medical Directors (MDs) of federal government tertiary health institutions to fill the vacancies created by resident doctors who have abandoned their training programme by refusing to report for work.
“The directive was contained in a circular signed by the Permanent Secretary, Federal Ministry of Health, Dr. Amina Shamaki and sent to the CMDs and MDs of the federal tertiary health institutions.

“It has come to the notice of the management of the ministry that some resident doctors in your establishment have voluntarily withdrawn from the Residency Training Programme by refusing to report for training without authorisation. Public Service Rule (PSR) 030402 (e) is relevant.
“This is in spite of the ongoing negotiations on their demands put forward by the representatives of NARD under the auspices of the Nigerian Medical Association (NMA).”

Akinola stated that “In view of this development, you are hereby directed to replace all the doctors that have withdrawn their services, with others from the pool of applicants for the training programmes in the various disciplines in order not to create ominous gap in training with attendant disruption of health care delivery in your facility.”

The statement further stressed that “the ministry is working with the panel on the review of the Residency Training Programme in Nigeria, led by Professor Wole Atoyebi, the Registrar of the National Postgraduate Medical College, to fast-track the development of a comprehensive blueprint for postgraduate training of doctors in the country. Please, ensure immediate compliance.”

The sack came after several failed negotiations between NARD and the federal government over work condition, training and other welfare package.

THISDAY learnt that the Speaker of the House of Representatives, Hon. Yakubu Dogara had already intervened on the matter, seeking to find a solution to lingering the crisis.
NARD National Liaison Officer, Dr Paul Agwu, confirmed the meeting to THISDAY, stating that the Minister of Health, Adewole, NARD officials and the leadership of the house were already holding a meeting as at the time of going to press.