Osinbajo meets Doctors via Zoom to end strike, NMA remains resolute

Osinbajo meets Doctors via Zoom to end strike, NMA remains resolute

Vice President Yemi Osinbajo has intervened in the ongoing strike by members of the Nigerian Association of Resident Doctors, according to reports.

The NARD declared a strike on July 30 at a meeting of its National Executive Council, with the theme ‘The Nigerian doctor, an endangered species: grappling with a pandemic, poor workplace infrastructure and security threats.’

The National President of NARD, Dr Okhuaihesuyi Uyilawa, announced the strike would begin on August 2 after a meeting in Umuahia, Abia State. He highlighted the Federal Government’s failure to implement the agreements reached with the union 113 days after the previous strike was suspended.

However, 33 days after the commencement of the strike, Osinbajo reached out to the doctors in a bid to find a lasting solution to the crisis.

TVC news gathered that the vice president had a zoom meeting with one of the officials of the doctors’ association on Friday where issues relating to the strike were discussed.

Vice President of NARD, Adejo Arome, confirmed that the vice president had a zoom meeting with an official of the association on Friday.

According to Arome, while reaching out to the association, the Vice President said he needed first-hand information on the issues involved.

“He told us that he did not want the issue to be resolved now and later there would be another strike.

“He said he wants to put the problem to rest once and for all. We are waiting for him to invite us officially and we are certain that he is going to do it. We trust his judgement.”

Meanwhile, the Nigerian Medical Association said the Federal Government has yet to reach out to the association.

Notwithstanding, the association stated that the 21-day strike notice it issued to the Federal Government stands regardless.

The association’s General Secretary, Dr Philips Ekpe, disclosed this in an interview with in Abuja.

According to him, the notice period was to enable the Federal Government to attend to the lingering issues with the NMA’s affiliate members.

He said, “The 21-day notice was to give the government time to meet the demands of our affiliate members such as NARD, Medical and Dental Consultants Association of Nigeria and Medical and Dental Specialist Association in Basic Medical Sciences.

“Apparently, nothing has been forthcoming as they have not reached out to us and even NARD and as you are aware, the matter with NARD is still in the court of law.

“Once government cooperates and attends to the demands of NARD and the other affiliates, then there won’t be any problem.

“But at the end of the ultimatum, if things don’t meet our expectations, the National Executive Council of our association will take decisions.

“On the issues of the salary of resident doctors that was withheld, we are working behind closed doors to make sure that things are resolved.”

The NMA had on August 28 issued a 21-day strike notice to the Federal Government, with effect from Monday, August 30.

The NMA and all of its affiliates agreed at the end of their National Executive Council meeting in Benin City, Edo State, to give the Federal Government 21 days to properly resolve all of the issues mentioned in the different agreements struck with the doctors.

While the Federal Government is currently trying to end the Resident Doctors’ strike, members of the Joint Health Sector Unions and the Assembly of Healthcare Professional Association have threatened to go on strike in 15 days if the government does not accept their demands.

JOHESU’s National President, Mr Biobelemonye Josiah, gave the ultimatum in a letter addressed to the Minister of Labour and Employment, Chris Ngige, and other relevant stakeholders.

Copy of the letter was made available to journalists on Saturday in Abuja.

Josiah said that the 15-day ultimatum was necessitated by the nonchalant attitude of the government to the plight of his members.

He added that his association and APHA are demanding an adjustment to the Consolidated Health Salary Structure, as was done with the Consolidated Medical Salary Structure since 2014; payment of all withheld April and May 2018 Salaries of members, as well as withheld Salaries in the Federal Medical Center, Owerri, Jos University Hospital, and Lagos University Teaching Hospital.

Others include the review of the defective implementation of COVID-19 Special Inducement and Hazard Allowance; implementation of National Industrial Court of Nigeria Alternative Dispute Resolution, Consent judgment and other court judgments; increase in retirement age from 60 to 65 years for health workers and 70 years for Consultant Health Professionals.

“Others are payment of reviewed hazard allowance in terms of payment that guarantees fairness and justice to all concerned, payment of actual 30 per cent consolidated basic shift duty allowance to Nurses/Midwives and others.

”Payment of teaching allowance to members on CONHESS 7 and 8 (nurses, midwives and others) and proper placement of Nurse Graduates and Interns,” he said.

Josiah said their demands also include payment of outstanding salaries of intern health professionals and all the Tertiary Health Institutions, proper implementation of the consultant pharmacist cadre for pharmacists in the public sector, among others.

According to him, “the Federal Government has not deemed it fit to honour the Terms of Settlement entered into with JOHESU since September 2017.

“This is especially the upward review of CONHESS Salary Structure as agreed, to be completed within five weeks from the date of agreement amongst other requests. The Government did not deem it fit to address these key issues during the duration of the last seven days warning strike and has only met with JOHESU on July 12,” he said.

“In July 2020, the Minister of Health agreed that a mistake was made by government in the payment of COVID-19 Special Inducement and Hazard Allowances. He noted that the shortfall was in the payment of 50 per cent Basic of Consolidated allowances to all Health Workers. It was a mistake on the part of government and the shortfall shall be paid accordingly to affected health workers.”

No fewer than 1,851 Nigerian-trained medical doctors acquired a total of 3,649 licenses to be able to practice in the United States of America in five years, investigations by have revealed

It was also gathered that physicians in the US could acquire multiple licenses which would allow them to practice in the country and other territories.

The Vice President, Communications, Federation of State Medical Board in the United States, Joe Knickrehm, confirmed that more Nigerians were actually trooping to the US to practice.

He further disclosed in an email exchange with our correspondent, that physicians in the US could acquire multiple licenses which would allow them to practice in the US and other territories.

The mail partly read, “Physicians can have multiple licenses to practice medicine in the United States if they wish to practice in multiple states or US territories.

“Between 2015 and 2020, a total of 1,851 Nigeria-educated physicians have been issued with a total of 3,649 licenses. 75 per cent of these physicians, who were issued licenses between these periods that is 1,388, are actively practicing in the US.

“As of 2020, 3,895 Nigeria-educated physicians with a total of 6,536 full active licenses are practicing in the US.”

President of the National Association of Resident Doctors, Uyilawa Okhuaihesuyi, however, said one of the reasons why physicians were eager to leave Nigeria was that they were not allowed to acquire multiple licenses which could enable them to practice in various fields.

He said, “In Nigeria, there is no such thing; you cannot have multiple licenses. You are only entitled to one license.

“This is one of the reasons why you see doctors leaving the country. When you visit these other countries, you can acquire medical licenses to practice in other fields.”

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