The Minister of Health, Osagie Ehanire, has directed federal tertiary hospitals to engage the services of National Youth Service Corps members to maintain routine services in place of striking resident doctors.
He also directed that locum staff should be brought in “when and where necessary to forestall services’ disruption when applicable and affordable”.
The minister, in a statement on Wednesday, explained that the directive was to mitigate the effect of the resident doctors’ strike.
Ehanire was reacting to the indefinite nationwide strike which the National Association of Resident Doctors began on Monday over the non-payment of their COVID-19 hazard allowance and other demands.
He stated: “lt’s with deep concern that l view the ongoing strike by the Nigerian Association of Resident Doctors which commenced yesterday on September 7, 2020.
“We must remember that the primary duty of doctors and all health workers is to save lives. Embarking on a strike in this time that the country is battling with the COVlD-19 pandemic is ill-timed and ill-advised.
“lt’s a critical time in which all well-meaning medical professionals should close ranks and confront the common enemy, which is the COVlD-I9 pandemic threatening mankind.
“This is therefore one strike too many. Besides, most of the demands have been met and others, though, difficult, are at an advanced stage of implementation.
“A little patience would have made a big difference.
“The Federal Ministry of Health finds it necessary to ensure measures are put in place to mitigate the effect of this strike on the generality of our populace by directing the CMDs/MDs of our federal tertiary hospitals to immediately do the following: COVlD-19 treatment outlets should continue to function as before.
“Emergency services should continue to run as before. Routine services should be maintained with consultants, NYSC doctors, locum staffers to be brought in when and where necessary to forestall services disruption when applicable and affordable.
“I call on the NARD to return to work and engage the Federal Government in completing the ongoing due process of implementing the MoU between NARD and government.
“I wish to assure the general public that measures have been put in place to ensure that they continue to access services at all our federal tertiary hospitals across the country.”
When contacted, NARD President, Sokomba Aliyu, said the minister issued the statement while the association was at another reconciliatory meeting, saying the statement had been overtaken by events.