The Minister of Health, Osagie Ehanire, on Wednesday, said striking resident doctors must be patient with the government as their demands are being met.
The Minister made the plea in an appearance on Channels Television’s special COVID-19 program.
The National Association of Resident Doctors (NARD) commenced an industrial strike on Monday amid the coronavirus pandemic, citing unmet demands such as the non-payment of COVID-19 hazard allowance.
The doctors, in June, had also downed tools for one week.
Mr Ehanire, on Wednesday, said it was “not a good time to go on strike”.
“Salaries are not outstanding, salaries are paid up-to-date; hazard allowance was outstanding up till a few days ago, as agreed,” Ehanire said. “But there is another tranche that is coming up on stream, which we are talking about with the Ministry of Finance.
“What they must understand is that there are several ministries dealing with these issues. these ministries have a lot on their plate. We are urging and advocating for attention for the doctors. We are asking the doctors for patience. We want to assure them they will not be shortchanged.”
The provision of life insurance is one of the key demands of the doctors.
“The insurance subject is under the office of the Head of Service; it’s a civil servant activity,” the Minister said. “And we are urging the office in charge to expedite settlement for those who lost their lives, to ensure that the insurance is well kept.
“These are not things that will happen overnight. If you don’t get it today, you will get it tomorrow. We are going to ensure that all those promises are kept.”
Earlier on Wednesday, the Minister directed youth service doctors to operate instead of the striking doctors, as government representatives continued to negotiate with NARD officials.
“The NYSC members “are not to take over, but to support the consultants,” Ehanire said. “The consultants are a category of senior doctors who run the programs and are supported by young doctors. Consultants oversee the work of resident doctors and resident doctors oversee the work of youth service doctors.
“Consultants will oversee the work of youth service doctors to make sure that the COVID centres are attended to, emergency centres and essential services are attended to, and then routine services, as much as possible, are also attended to.
“The Ministry has a responsibility to ensure Nigerians continue to receive health services.”