Medical doctors in Nigeria have announced the ending of their indefinite strike action. According to a communique issued by the Nigerian Association of Resident Doctors, the indefinite strike action initiated a week ago for not being paid since October 2019 has been called off « for the sake of humanity ».
« Considering the recent coronavirus cases in the country and the commitment shown by stakeholders in the health sector, we have decided to suspend the strike”, the Nigeria Association of Resident Doctors added in the statement.
The decision by the medical professionals to call off the strike came after the speaker of the National Assembly mandated the committee head of Health Services, Tanko Sununu to hold discussions with the doctors association in order to seek a solution to the problem. During the talks, Mr Tanko pleaded on the health workers in the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) to call off the industrial action they embarked on. He asked members of the National Association of Resident Doctors, Medical & Dental Consultants Association, Nurses and Midwives Association to consider the effect of the industrial action on the larger society in a period of global health challenges. The Chairman of the Committee, Mr Sununu during the meeting, agreed to ensure that all salary payment issues would be resolved by April 2020.
The strike call off, is a big sigh of relief to the Nigerian Health Department which has been grappling with numerous health cases notably the coronavirus. The Nigerian Centre for Disease Control confirmed that four new cases have been registered (bringing the number to 8 cases), all the new cases had travelled from high-risk countries in the last week. Officials say they have started to track down people they may have been in contact with.
Meanwhile, measures to stop the spread of the disease are being stepped up. Rail passenger services and international flights to Nigeria have been suspended and people banned from standing in buses if all the seats are occupied. Civil servants have been told to stay at home for the next 14 days, and the private sector is being urged to do the same with their own non-essential staff. Officials have called upon traditional leaders to advise communities to change their behavior and avoid gatherings. Veteran Nigerian politician and business tycoon Atiku Abubakar has confirmed on Twitter that his son is among those who have tested positive.