This came as resident doctors, yesterday, began an indefinite strike to demand the implementation of a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) they signed with the Federal Government on the improvement of their welfare.
When Ng Times visited some public hospitals across the country, yesterday, there was slow but total compliance by the about 16,000 resident doctors working in these institutions.
Patients and their relatives were stranded. Most of the hospitals were not admitting new patients. Others advised those on admission that they would be discharged since the hospitals no longer had the capacity to attend to their medical needs.
However, other cadres of doctors like medical consultants and doctors-in-training were seen attending to some patients at emergency centres.
National President of the National Association of Resident Doctors (NARD), Dr. Uyilawa Okhuaihesuyi, told Ng Times: “There is no going back. The strike is indefinite. We can only call off the strike when they do what they are supposed to do. We have families to take care of. We have lost 19 of our colleagues to COVID-19. What is going to happen to their families? The Federal Government has not met the promise made to their beneficiaries.”
Reacting to the report that the Minister of Labour and Productivity, Dr. Chris Ngige, had invited them for a parley yesterday, Okhuaihesuyi said: “We have not received any invitation either formally or informally. Nobody has reached us. The only thing we want is the full implementation of the MoU and Memorandum of Agreement (MoA) reached with the Federal Government 116 six days ago.”
Meanwhile, the Medical and Dental Council of Nigeria (MDCN) has warned house officers from taking part in the strike.
The council cautioned that doing so will result in a recurrence of unpaid postings.
Dr Tajudeen Sanusi, MDCN’s Registrar, stated in a statement issued in Abuja that house officers should shun industrial activities that might disrupt their posts.
Sanusi instructed Chief Medical Directors, Medical Directors, and Medical Superintendents to take notice of their obligations and verify that all doctors under their administrative control complied with all applicable rules.
He said: “The attention of the Council has been drawn to the news of the industrial strike announced by the National Association of Resident Doctors and it is in the light of this that Council is constrained to issue this public notice as guidance to practitioners and the general public.
“MDCN regulates medical and dental practice in Nigeria including clinical laboratory practice by members of the professions as stipulated by the provisions of the Medical and Dental Practitioners’ Act Cap M8 LFN 2004.
“Medical and dental practitioners on the Provisional Register who are employed as house officers, heads of health institutions where housemanship training for medical or dental graduates are conducted, and the general public, should note the provisions of the Medical and Dental Practitioners Act in sections 1(2c), 8, 11, 12, the rules and guidelines that flow therefrom including the Code of Medical Ethics in Nigeria (2008 Ed) and Guidelines on Registration.
“Provisional registration is for the purpose of enabling young doctors to undertake housemanship training in approved hospitals under the supervision of registered specialists. Provisional registration lapses after two years or immediately a doctor is signed off from housemanship. Generally, it is expected that on employment, house officers should complete their postings within 12 calendar months.”
He said that doctors and dentists must spend 12 weeks in each of Medicine, Surgery, Obstetrics and Gynecology, and Paediatrics, as well as other essential specialities for dentistry, throughout their housemanship.
According to Sanusi, “Any interruption for any reason, including embarking on strike actions, during any of the postings, will not be condoned, and should be reported immediately to the Chief Medical Director, Medical Director or Medical Superintendent of the housemanship training Institution.”
A mother in the paediatric ward at the Lagos University Teaching Hospital (LUTH) stated the strike had no impact on her child’s treatment. She, on the other hand, is concerned that if nothing is done to end the strike, care would be cut off.
Samuel Janet, a fatty liver disease patient in the accident and emergency center, was on a drip as physicians attended to her.
They had been notified that the strike had begun, but physicians were still treating her daughter, she told The Guardian.
She expressed concern that her daughter’s condition might deteriorate if physicians were unable to provide care due to the strike.
Mrs. Adeyemi Fatima, whose son was scheduled for chest surgery, begged the government to accept the striking doctors’ requests, saying she couldn’t face the anguish of losing her kid.