The Federal Government Wednesday appealed to the National Association of Resident Doctors (NARD) to consider the plight of the 80 per cent of the citizenry in need of healthcare, should they withdraw their services.
The government, through the Minister of Labour and Employment, Dr Chris Ngige, said the country was in a bad place health-wise because of the impact of the COVID–19 pandemic on the health sector.
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At a conciliatory meeting with the leadership of NARD in Abuja, Ngige said the majority of the welfare issues under contention were almost resolved even before the letter of complaint and notification of planned strike action was delivered at the ministry.
Ngige, before the meeting went into a closed-door session, said the government had started discussions on hazard health allowance for health workers in the country.
“We are here because we have started solving your issues.
“We put up proposals with given timelines on how to deal with them.
“We will look at those proposals with you, fix adequate timelines so that the people on the government side will be implementing and marking them as they execute them.
“I have held informal meetings with the finance ministry and they told me they have started solving some of the problems.
“The two committees in the National Assembly have also tried to get you and your employers on the same page.
“We have to intervene to ensure industrial peace in the health industry.
“We are also in a very bad period health wise the world over, and Nigeria is not an exception. So, we have to think about the generality of Nigerians.
“Because right now, 80 per cent of Nigerians are our patients because of the COVID-19 pandemic.
“So we have to look at the issues that way and see how we can get the best out of this situation,” he said.
Also, the Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Health, Mr Abdullahi Mashi, appealed to the doctors to reconsider embarking on the strike.
Mashi urged the doctors to reconsider their decision as most of the issues on the ground were almost resolved.
“Most of the issues are almost solved. The only thing remaining is to get the commitment of NARD to suspend the strike action. All efforts are being put in place,” Mashi added.
The President of NARD, Dr Uyilawa Okhuaihesuyi, who spoke on behalf of his members, said that they looked forward to resolving all issues and grievances during the meeting.
As at when filing this report, the resident doctors had entered into another closed-door session with the country’s lawmakers.