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Nigeria Health Sector Hanging As Resident Doctors Embark On Five Days Strike

…Patients Get attention in Ogun, Ilorin

Sodiq Mojibola, Fawaz Adebisi & Jelili Gbadamosi

 

The fate of the Nigerian health sector may be facing yet another setback as the National Association of Resident Doctors (NARD) commenced a fiv- day warning strike.

The industrial action which commenced on Wednesday morning was to express the concerns of doctors as stakeholders in the health sector.

The Association made demands from the Federal Government to upscale the sector and make it a conducive working environment for the medical practitioners.

After failed efforts to reach a dialogue with the FG on the demands, the association decided to embark  on a five days strike as a warning.

Though the Federal Government, through the Minister of Labour and Employment, Dr. Chris  Ngige  had earlier warned NARD not to activate  the strike, having received a notice, the doctors still went ahead.

PLATFORM TIMES gathered that the strike action has partially paralysed activities in some of the hospitals where the association has its members.

Ngige had  threatened that the federal government will not pay for the five days of the strike.

Meanwhile, PLATFORM TIMES  observed that the strike action has paralysed medical activities at the national hospital, teaching hospitals and some federal medical centers.

Some patients were reportedly handed over to consultants while some have been discharged to prevent morbidity owing to inadequate medical attention during the strike.

The worst affected facilities were the National Hospital and Federal Medical Centre, Abuja; University of Lagos Teaching Hospital (LUTH), Lagos State Teaching Hospital (LASUTH), the University of Benin Teaching Hospital (UBTH), Irrua Specialist Teaching Hospital, Federal Medical Centre, Asaba;; Nnamdi Azikiwe University Teaching Hospital (NAUTH), the University of Nigeria Teaching Hospital, and National Orthopedic Hospital, Enugu; Delta State University Teaching Hospital, Oghara and the Federal Medical Centre (FMC), Yenagoa, Bayelsa State.

Others were the University of Calabar Teaching Hospital, Ahmadu Bello University Teaching Hospital (ABUTH), Zaria; the University of Ilorin Teaching Hospital (UITH); Modibbo Adama University Teaching Hospital (MAUTH); Yola; Jos University Teaching Hospital (JUTH), Federal Teaching Hospital, Katsina; Benue State University Teaching Hospital, Makurdi, Federal Medical Centre, Birninkudu; Federal University Dutse Teaching Hospital and Abubakar Tafawa Balewa University Teaching Hospital, Bauchi.

At the National Hospital, the Chairman, Association of Resident Doctors (ARD), Olawale Maruf, described the strike as a total shutdown, saying the action is having a negative impact on the health system because resident doctors make up the largest workforce among doctors in the country.

Explaining the level of impact at the National Hospital, Maruf said: “There is no emergency service and there are no doctors in the clinics and theatres.

“You only have consultants who are not enough to carry out this assignment and few house officers who are not really skilled, who are under training, unlike the resident doctors.”

In Bayelsa, the NARD Presidents at the FMC, Dr Romeo Mbooh, and President of the state-owned Niger Delta University Teaching Hospital, Dr Namara, told newsmen that they are fully in compliance with the strike.

PLATFORM TIMES gathered that only consultants and nurses were rendering skeletal medical services in some departments and wards at the two health facilities.

Mbooh said, “The strike in FMC Yenagoa is total. It is just that consultants are attending to patients. If consultants were part of the strike it would have been much more total. But even though consultants are seeing patients, at the level of NARD, it is total.

“We have done a lot of monitoring, we’ve gone round departments and we saw a lot of our colleagues handing over patients; discharging patients because sometimes, consultants may not be around and they (resident doctors) need to quickly discharge those patients, and possibly referral so that they will not have a lot of morbidities. So in the bid of doing that, you can say that there is 90 per cent compliance with the strike.”

The case is however different in some parts of Ogun and Ilorin.

While patients get treatments but inadequate in Ogun, patients were fully attended to in Ilorin.

In an exclusive interview with the President of the Association of Resident Doctors, Federal Medical Centre, Abeokuta, Ogun, Dr Tope Osundara  disclosed that adequate medical attention cannot be guaranteed as a result of the doctors off duty.

Osundara revealed that the in compliance with the strike action, the resident doctors are not just off duty but handed over patients to medical consultants who will care and give medical attention to patients.

“We have handed over the care of patients to consultants, and the nurses are on the wards to also assist them.

“However, if the consultants cannot handle the number of patients that are on the wards, I don’t know, maybe some of them may want to refer while some of them may want to manage the patients on their own.

“So , for some of these patients, I’ll just enjoin them that they can always liaise with consultants of the ward and see what can be done.” He said.

In Ilorin, PLATFORM TIMES gathered that Consultants, nurses and other caregivers on Wednesday took up responsibility of treating both the old and fresh patients at the University of Ilorin Teaching Hospital (UITH).

Though the doctors are on strike, the Deputy director, Corporate Affairs Unit of UITH, Mrs. Olabisi Ajiboye, said that consultants, nurses and other caregivers were attending to both the old and new patients.

“The consultants, nurse and other caregivers are on ground attending to patients. Though the workload is heavy, we are coping. We are not turning patients back”, she said.

It is however unsure what the situation may turn to after the five days as the federal government who had threatened to replace the striking doctors have also assured that negotiations are ongoing.

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