Thursday, 3 October 2013

Resident Doctors Strike Bites Harder

Resident doctors’ strike have paralysed hospitals nationwide. The doctors declared the strike yesterday, following non-payment of their wages, according to the President of the National Association of Resident Doctors of Nigeria (NARD) at the University College Hospital (UCH), Ibadan, Dr. Babatunde Babasanya.
He also said the Federal Government’s implementation of the Integrated Payroll and Personnel Information System (IPPIS) had not been effective in spite of the fact that many doctors were short paid.
Babasanya said: “Some House Officers in Lagos have not been paid for four months till recently when they paid them only two months.
“ We have been paid as cooks; in a month some of us received N1,000, some N20, 000 and some may not even receive at all.
“Government has not been sincere toward alleviating the suffering of everybody.
“ Our doctors don’t even take their cars to work again because they can’t fuel it. How do they expect us to cope when we come to work by 7.a.m. and leave by 10 p.m ?”
The NARD boss also said that the residency training programme had come under severe challenges, especially in terms of under funding.
“We had different meetings with the Federal Government and the resolutions had not been adhered to. Right now, we want them to sort these out.
“The moment the agreement is made and the government meets our request, we will start work immediately,” he said.
A NAN correspondent, who visited the tertiary health institution on Wednesday, reports that consultants and other health workers were attending to patients.
The Chief Information Officer of UCH, Mr Ayodeji Bobade, however, declined comments on the development.
In Abeokuta, striking resident doctors at the Federal Medical Centre appealed to the Federal Government to embrace dialogue in order to end the strike.
The NARD president at the centre, Dr Ibrahim Adewale, spoke to reporters
Adewale, who noted that patients were always at the receiving end whenever doctors embarked on strike, urged the two parties to resolve the dispute.
“After talks with the national body and the government seemed to have broken down and the ultimatum given government expired, we were instructed to withdraw services.
“We pray that everything will be resolved within the shortest possible time because of the patients,” Adewale said.
NAN reports that patients in dire need of medical attention were disappointed as the resident doctors were not at their duty posts.
NAN correspondent, however, sighted a few consultants and other health workers on duty at the medical centre.
When NAN visited the Doctors’ Lounge at the hospital, some of the resident doctors were seen discussing in groups.
The Chief Medical Director of the centre, Dr Dapo Sotiloye, declined comments, saying “ it is between the doctors and the Federal Government.’’
Some of the patients, who spoke with NAN in separate interviews, appealed to the two parties to consider the plight of ordinary Nigerians.
One of the patients, Alhaji Fatai Salisu, lamented the attitude of some nurses at the centre and appealed to the doctors to return to work.
Mr Dada Abiodun, whose wife was on admission prior to the strike, said he might relocate her to another hospital.
Also reacting to the strike, Prof. Mikail Buhari, the Chairman, Nigerian Medical Association (NMA), Kwara Chapter, said the doctors were committed to full implementation of the strike option.
He said that the strike followed the expiration of a 21-day ultimatum earlier declared by NARD.
Buhari said members were directed to embark on the strike due to “ persistent unwillingness of the Federal Government to articulate a comprehensive guideline for residency training.’’
He said the development had led to inadequate funding of residency training and failure of the recently re-introduced overseas clinical attachment for resident doctors.
Buhari said this had caused persistent disharmony in manpower training centres across the country due to the disengagement of members.
He said the doctors were also dissatisfied with the operation of the IPPIS following inexplicable deductions in salaries.
A NAN correspondent, who visited UITH on Wednesday, sighted only consultants and other health workers attending to patients.
Alhaji Oba-Hassan Kadiri, the spokesman of the University of Ilorin Teaching Hospital (UITH), said only special medical cases were being attended to.
In Owo, Ondo State, striking resident doctors insisted that they would not return to work until their demands were met.
NARD members at the Federal Medical Centre (FMC), Owo, said the association was committed to the indefinite nation-wide strike.
Dr Lemadoro Abiodun, the branch president, told NAN that “there is no going back on this struggle until our demands are met.’’
“I may not be able to speak on the general situation of the FMC in relation to the strike because I am a civil servant, but I can tell you authoritatively that no member of NARD works now.
“We are fully ready to pursue our demands to a logical conclusion. Therefore, we will not succumb to undue pressure from any quarter, “ he said.
But Mr Olanrewaju Yusuf, the spokesman of the centre, said the doctors joined the strike because it was called by the national body of NARD.
He said only resident doctors were on strike while consultants and other categories of health workers were at work.
“ We have no issues with the resident doctors going on strike to press home their demands from the Federal Government.
“ However, the strike has not had serious effect on the operations of the hospital as other categories of health workers are on duty,’’ he said.
Resident Doctors’ strike has crippled activities at the Ahmadu Bello University Teaching Hospital (ABUTH), Zaria as patients were seeing vacating the hospital.
Also affected was the National Eye Centre, Kaduna, where the doctors have also joined the strike.
Check by Correspondents of the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) revealed that many patients and their relations were busy leaving the hospitals.
A relation to one of the patients on admission at ABUTH, Malam Gambo Yakasai told NAN that they have decided to seek for alternative medication elsewhere.
“We were shocked when the information about the commencement of the strike reached us, we therefore have to think of how to transfer our patients elsewhere, since we cannot allow them to be knocked down by sickness,” he said.
Mrs Maryam Ibrahim, said she was in the hospital on appointment, adding, “this strike is neither good for the patients nor for the nation”.
Chief Medical Director, ABUTH, Prof. Khalid Lawal, said consultants had been deployed to provide skeletal services at the hospital.
“Our consultants are providing skeletal services in the hospital, our Accident and Emergency unit is also providing its usual essential services. Even during the previous strike our consultants had provided skeletal services,” he said.
On patients vacating the hospital, Lawal assured that most of them had “less severe illnesses” and were discharged by the doctors.
At the National Eye Centre, patients were also seeing waiting at the Out-Patient Department with no doctors to attend to them.
Dr Yohanna Joseph, the Chairman of the Resident Doctors Association of the centre said they had joined the indefinite strike.
According to him, the strike will continue until all issues of training, work conditions and salary are fully addressed.
Spokesman Lawal Bala said the management had deployed consultants to fill in the gap caused by the strike, assuring that services at the hospital would not be grounded.
Chairman, Kaduna State Diabetic Association, Alhaji Sani Hassan, described the persistent strike in the health sector as “pathetic”, and called for urgent negotiations to end the current strike.
“I want to plead with both parties to sheath their sword for the betterment of the health sector and the nation at large.
Doctors serving in Bauchi State government-owned hospitals attended to patients on the first day of the strike action embarked on by National Association of Resident Doctors.
A Correspondent of the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) who visited the different arms of the Bauchi State specialists’ Hospital , reports that that normal services were being rendered.
At the Bauchi Urban Maternity Clinic and the hospital located along Bakin Kura road in Bauchi metropolis, most of the patients were not even aware that Doctors had commenced strike.
“I have just been attended to by a doctor. As you can see, there are others patients here. I am just hearing from you that strike commenced today,” said one of the patients, Mohammed Ali, while fielding questions from NAN.
However, doctors at the Abubakar Tafawa Balewa University Teaching Hospital (ATBUTH), joined the strike.
NAN Correspondent who visited the hospital reports that only nurses and other health workers were on duty.
Malam Auwal Bala, a Bauchi resident, told NAN that he took his pregnant wife to the hospital around 1am, but was told that Doctors were on strike, and advised to move her to a private clinic.
“My wife was in labour when we rushed her to the hospital, but were told that there may be no Doctor to attend to her. So we took her to a private hospital,” he said.
Officials of the NARD ATBUTH branch, were not available for comments when NAN visited.
The Chief Medical Director of the hospital was said to be out of town and none of his subordinates was willing to comment.

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