Nigerian doctors, under the umbrella of the National Association of Resident Doctors (NARD) on Monday morning, suspended its nationwide industrial action, about nine weeks after it commenced.
The development, it was gathered, followed a marathon emergency meeting of the association which stretched from Sunday evening to early Monday morning.
Both the leadership of NARD and that of the umbrella Nigerian Medical Association (NMA) had met earlier on Sunday, to address the grey areas, with a mandate from the latter that the former should suspend its strike.
According to the new President of NARD, Godiya Ishaya: “We’ve officially suspended the strike to resume at 8:00 am on Wednesday. We made the decision in the wee hours of today. We held an emergency meeting from 5:30 pm on Sunday to the morning hours of today, and the NEC decided that having reviewed the progress made so far, the strike should be suspended.”
The doctors had commenced the industrial action on August 2, following what it described as poor treatment of its members by both the federal government and some state governments.
The strike coincided with a spike in COVID-19 cases in the country, leaving many worried that it could have serious consequences for the battle against the third wave of the pandemic.
NARD is demanding, amongst other issues, the payment of COVID-19 treatment allowances in the absence of death-in-service insurance, having lost over a dozen of its members to the pandemic, while also protesting the shortage of manpower in public hospitals.
At the root of the strike action is the government’s constant failure to honour the agreements reached with NARD over its demands.
Series of meetings between the leaders of the Nigerian Medical Association (NMA), NARD, and government representatives also failed to resolve the issues after the striking doctors insisted they could not trust the government.
Despite the National Industrial Court (NIC) ordering members of NARD to return to their duty posts, the doctors vowed to continue the strike until all demands are met.
The NMA, the Medical and Dental Consultants’ Association of Nigeria (MDCAN) and the Medical and Dental Doctors in Academics (MEDSABAM) are also threatening to commence strike if the government fails to resolve the pending issues.
The Joint Health Sector Union (JOHESU), which comprises other categories of health workers in the country, has also threatened to down tools should the government fail to heed its requests.