The federal government Tuesday appealed to the striking members of the Nigerian Association of Resident Doctors (NARD) to end their ongoing strike for the sake of Nigerians dying in their numbers in hospitals across the country.
Permanent Secretary Federal Ministry of Labour and Employment Mrs Daju Kachallom made the appeal while speaking to journalists in Abuja.
She begged NARD members not to allow more Nigerians to die as a result of their absence in the hospitals.
The permanent secretary pleaded with the striking doctors to return to work without further delay to save their fellow countrymen whose lives were hanging in between life and death.
She assured that the federal government was working assiduously to meet all their demands in a short period of time.
Kachallom further highlighted the contentious issues had remained between the Medical Residency Training Fund (MRTF) and the one on one replacement of doctors in hospitals, saying this was receiving the right attention from the government.
She also said while the committee set up to look into the issues raised by NARD needed to conclude their work within the time frame given and submit recommendations for the government to work with, the government had appealed to the striking doctors to exercise little patience for ministers to come on board.
Recalling that another meeting was held on the 17th of July 2023 to review the level of implementation from the government side, the permanent secretary government appealed to the striking doctors not to welcome the new government which came on board 29th of May with strike.
“To be honest, the federal government on its side has done quite a bit of trying to ensure that the National Association of Resident Doctors did not go on strike but they still went ahead.
“The main crux of the matter for now are two main issues; payment of the 2023 Medical Residency Training Fund and one on one replacement of exited doctors.
“On the immediate payment of 2023 Medical Residency Training Fund, we appealed to them that they should kindly await when ministers are in place because permanent secretaries have a threshold and what the government is expected to pay is far and above the threshold of the permanent secretary. Very soon, we are sure that ministers are going to be in place and we told them to please tarry a while, we understand the plight of where you’re coming from.
“We are pleading with them to call off the strike. To be honest, the Federal Ministry of Health, their parent ministry, actually wrote to the Presidency on the issues in the health sector for him to intervene, we are awaiting his response,” Kachallom said.
She further said an inter-ministerial committee was set up to look into the issue on replacement of doctors.
She said: “We need to determine and establish who exactly are exiting because we’re all guided as civil servants by the public service rules. There’s a difference between exits from an office, there is study leave, there is leave of absence and different kinds of leave, so we need to be sure.
“We all know how these things work in the federal civil system and we pleaded again for a little more time for the committee to wrap up and when recommendations are made, we will bring them forth.
“We kindly appeal to the National Association of Resident Doctors that Nigerians are dying in droves, that’s the truth. The health sector is a very important sector.
“People are dying, people cannot care for themselves. So, I am begging them, I am imploring them and I am lending my voice to the voice of all members of government who have appealed to them to please call off this strike and go back to work.
“I know that your parent ministry, alongside other government agencies, are working hand in glove to ensure that this matter is sorted out. So, may I appeal once again to NARD to please call off the strike and go back to work, not just because the government is pleading with you, but because our people are dying.
“We are talking about the lives of our citizens, we are talking about the lives of our children, we are talking about the lives of the populace who depend on you for medical services, for healthcare, for wellbeing, because without all these, even the work we do is nothing.”
On the planned picketing of health ministries and agencies nationwide, the PS said: “Government is committed without a doubt, to considering the expectations of all parties’ consent in the interest of industrial harmony and peace, that is what we need.
“I want to reiterate this government’s commitment to peaceful resolution of all outstanding issues. In doing that, I assure you that the government will adhere to all approved standard industrial relations procedures and best practices.”