OrderPaperToday – The Senate told the National Association of Resident Doctors (NARD) that it has lost all moral and legal grounds to continue on its seven-day-old strike, and urged them to call off the action.
Chairman, Senate Committee on Healthcare services, Sen. Ibrahim Oloriegbe, urged NARD to call off its nationwide industrial action while making his remark during a public hearing on the Federal Medical Centre, Mubi, Adamawa State, Establishment Bill, 2021 (SB. 668), Thursday in Abuja.
He stated that the committee met with the representatives of the doctors with a view to resolving the issues in contention and averting the strike.
“I want to put on record that as the National Assembly, we made an effort to avert the doctors going on strike.
“We had a marathon meeting just before Easter; on March 21 specifically, and we agreed on all the issues that are raised by the resident doctors.
“Particularly three are very germane. One is payment of salary to house officers which as at that time they also agreed that has essentially been cleared and that was the major reason they wanted to go on strike.
“The second one was what they claimed that there should be payment to local resident doctors which was an aberration where there was not supposed to be local but the government agreed to commence payment.
“Those are the two critical ones that were germane. Most of the other issues that were raised; they were not even issues within the purview of the federal government because they were issues of state governments that owed salaries,” Oloriegbe stated.
The Federal Ministry of Finance confirmed that a committee has been set up to look at the other aspects.
Resident doctors in Nigeria recently embarked on strike on April 1 over non-payment of allowances and lack of facilities at the state-run hospitals.
The National Assembly is on record to have intervened in previous strike threats and actions by doctors in the past.
In a related development, the Senate has sought the establishment of a Federal Medical Centre, Mubi in Adamawa State, in order to tackle the problem of overcrowding the primary and secondary healthcare service centres in Adamawa State.
According to the sponsor of the bill, Senator Aishatu Dahiru Ahmed (Binani), representing Adamawa Central, the bill seeks to bridge the health living standard gaps in Mubi.
“Mubi is one of the oldest Nigerian towns and it is the headquarters of defunct Sardauna Province.
“A 2020 Multi Sector Needs Assessment on health living standards gaps of accessibility, availability, quality, use and awareness of Mubi people, funded by European Union Humanitarian Aid reveals that 24% of households live below Health Living Standards out of which 1% is extreme and 23% severe. Eight per cent of residents need more than one hour walk to access healthcare.
“The Health Living Standard gaps of Mubi South and Mubi North LGs is 55% high compared to Lamurde 9%, Shelleng 11%, and Maiha 9%. Twenty nine per cent of households have low Health Living Standards vulnerability.
“Twenty four per cent of residents who are 60 years and above have mental or physical disability or chronic illness. 70% of resident would not seek treatment with formal health facility/provider due to the problems of accessibility, overcrowding, awareness and affordability.
“Mubi has a land mass of 506.4km² with a total population according to National Population Commission and the National Bureau of Statistics data released in 2006.
“There are also three Local Government Areas of Chibok, Askira-Uba Gwoza from Borno State that are much nearer to Mubi North than to Maiduguri, hence their people would find it easier to go to Mubi than Maiduguri”, she stated.
She noted that the provision of a Federal Medical Centre in Mubi will come at a very low cost to government since the existing General Hospital has the necessary requirements to be upgraded to a Federal Medical Centre.
Stakeholders at the hearing commended Sen. Aishatu for sponsoring this bill, adding that Mubi can become a hub for medical tourism.
Reporting by Blessing Ojochenemi