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Resident doctors suspend nationwide strike

By The Citizen
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There was a huge sigh of relief on Tuesday at the Federal Government hospitals as doctors under the aegis of the National Association of Resident Doctors (NARD) called off the three-week industrial action embarked on by some chapters and the planned nationwide strike slated to begin on September 30.

The suspension of the strike on Monday night follows the payment of one month out of the four-month arrears owed most members, with a promise to settle the outstanding by yesterday.

However, resident doctors at the Lagos University Teaching Hospital (LUTH) have threatened to resume strike in the next one week if the management fails to pay salaries from March to May, which was being owed before the Integrated Payroll Payment System (IPPS) problem.

NARD President, LUTH chapter, Dr. Emeka Ugwu, said yesterday that 'we have suspended the strike yesterday because the Federal Government has paid one month out of the four months that is May, June, July, August.

'They promised to pay another money by today (Tuesday). The agreement is that they will pay in some money before we resume work to enable our members with transportation.

'We resumed work 8 a.m. today. But we will resume the strike action by next week if the LUTH management does not pay the outstanding March, April and May salaries we were being owed before the IPPS issue, as well as June, July, August.'

Meanwhile, the Nigerian Medical Association (NMA) yesterday gave the Federal Government four weeks ultimatum to resolve all the irregularities associated with the IPPS.

In a communiqué issued on Monday night at the end of its emergency National Executive Council (NEC) meeting in Abuja, the NMA resolved to extend by four weeks the subsisting ultimatum to allow for implementation of the elements of the Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) reached at the end of the conciliatory meeting between it and government's negotiating team within government's set time.

The meeting was called to review the 21-day ultimatum issued on September 2. In attendance at the emergency meeting were the 36 state branches of the NMA and the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), NMA affiliate bodies, past presidents and elders of the medical profession.

According to the communiqué, which was signed by the NMA President, Dr. Osahon Enabulele, and Secretary-General, Dr Akpufuoma L. Pemu, 'NEC resolved that at the expiration of the four weeks extension, the association shall reappraise the commitment of the Federal Government to her self-determined time lines for the implementation of the MoU and take appropriate actions as she deems fit without further warning.

'NEC resolved to take necessary actions to protect the interest of members if government fails to urgently and permanently resolve the unacceptable irregularities evident in the current implementation of IPPIS scheme.'

The body assured Nigerians that it is prepared to take necessary actions to salvage the health system in their overall interest. It appreciated the concerns of President Goodluck Jonathan to reposition the health system, predicated on professionalism and best practices as suggested in the inauguration of the Yayale Ahmed-led Presidential Committee on Harmony in the Health Sector.

It also commended government's efforts thus far to resolve the issues brought before it by the association, particularly the ongoing intervention by the Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Anyim Pius Anyim, among others, and urged them to keep fate with the timelines set for the actualisation of the MoU in order to build its confidence in the system.