Doctors In COVID-19 Centers Risk N5m Fine If They Do Not Join NARD Strike

 The National Association of Resident Doctors has ordered doctors at the COVID-19 isolation centres to join the nationwide strike it began on April 1.

The NARD has also threatened to impose a fine of N5m on any of its branches that fail to join the strike.

It also said branches found wanting would not be able to hold any national position for the next two years.

While the President of NARD, Uyilawa Okhuaihesuyi, in an interview with one of our correspondents disclosed the directive to doctors at the isolation centres, the threat to impose a N5m fine on errant branches was contained in an internal memo sent out to members by the National Executive Council of the association.

Recall that  NARD, an association of doctors undergoing residency training,  had on April 1 begun a nationwide strike over government’s failure to pay salaries of house officers and review  N5,000 hazard allowance of doctors.

Last-minute efforts on March 31 by the Federal Government to prevent the strike failed as the doctors shunned an agreement they signed with government on the grounds that proposals contained in it were not new.

On April 1, there were reports that members of the association at the COVID-19 isolations did not join the strike on compassionate grounds.

But the internal memo of the association obtained by The PUNCH on Monday threatened to impose N5m fine on any branch that shunned the strike.

It read in part, “NARD affirms her commitment to the welfare of all members. All members of NARD will be levied the sum of N2, 500 as strike levy for the smooth prosecution of the industrial action.

“Penalty for any centre that sabotages the industrial action will be payment of a fine of N5m and suspension from holding any NARD national officers committee positions for two years.”

Meanwhile, it was learnt that the strike, which entered its fifth day on Monday, might be taking its toll on the COVID-19 response.

Okhuaihesuyi said doctors at the isolation centres,  who are their members, were asked to join the strike because of the importance of this particular industrial action.

“I know some people may think we are selfish but this strike is about improving the health sector and improving service delivery,” he said.

The NARD President, however, said consultant doctors should be able to handle emergencies at the isolation centres for now.

NARD comprises over 40 per cent of the total number of doctors in Nigeria. There are some 42,000 doctors in Nigeria, out of which 16,000 are resident doctors – medical school graduates training as specialists.

The Minister of State for Health, Dr. Olorunnimbe Mamora, told The PUNCH that he was confident that chief medical directors in several states would be able to make necessary adjustments.

Mamora, however, said he was confident that the strike would not be prolonged because meetings were still being held between the Federal Government and the leadership of NARD.

“I do not envisage a situation where the strike will continue because we are making every effort to resolve the impasse. I’m hoping we will continue with dialogue and also ensure we can resolve the issues with NARD because they form a major work force within the system in terms of clinical work.

“So, it is in the interest of the country to have these things sorted out soon. I’m aware that the various CMDs are also putting in place contingency arrangements,” Mamora said.

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