The leadership of the National Association of Resident Doctors (NARD) met on Wednesday and vowed to continue their nationwide strike until the federal government meets all their demands.

One week after the industrial action began, it has grounded activities in hospitals across the country but the resident doctors say, “a luta continua; vitória é certa“, which means, “the struggle continues; victory is certain”.

So, what is the bone of contention?

The communique issued after their meeting listed all the ten demands that prompted the strike and reappraised the federal government’s response for each of them.

Here is the full list of the demands as shared in the communique issued by Uyilawa Okhuaihesuyi, NARD president (pictured above):

1. Immediate Payment of all salaries owed to all house officers including march salaries (regardless of quota system) before the end of business on the 31st of March 2021.

As of today, although payment has been made to some of them, the payment is marred with so many irregularities. Most of them are still not paid.

2. Immediate payment of all salary arrears including march salaries for our members in all federal (GIFMIS platform) and state tertiary health institutions across the country.

None of these Doctors who have worked for over four months has been paid. Our members in states like ABSUTH, IMSUTH and UNIMEDTH are still been owed twenty, five and four months salaries respectively.

3. Upward review of the current hazard allowance to 50% of consolidated basic salaries of all health workers and payment of the outstanding COVID-19 inducement allowance.

The hazard allowances have remained five thousand naira (5000) for over thirty (30) years. For the Honourable Minister of Labour & Employment (HMOL&E) to feign ignorance of this on national television today leaves a lot to be desired. This is an all-time low coming from someone who has been in the Nigeria senate where monthly hardship allowance for senators is N1,​242,122.70. Demanding for 5 weeks for its review despite the ongoing strike is really shameful. A sincere government should immediately call all stakeholders together to address this issue once and for all.

4. Payment of death in service insurance for all health workers who died as a result of COVID-19 infection or other infectious diseases in the country.

This legitimate demand has been left unattended to.

5. Payment of Salary shortfalls of 2014, 2015 and 2016 to our members in all federal institutions including state-owned institutions as earlier agreed with NARD.

Nothing has been done in this regard.

6. Universal domestication/implementation of the 2017 MRTA by all federal government and state-owned training institutions to ensure proper funding of residency training in the country as stipulated by the Act.

Nothing has been done about this especially by the state governments.

7. Abolishment of the exorbitant bench fees being paid by our members on outside postings in all training institutions across the country with immediate effect.

The only positive result from the conciliatory meeting with the HMoLE, however no circular yet to back the abolishment.

8. Immediate payment of 2019, the balance of 2020 and 2021 medical residency training funds (MRTF) to our members including those under state government employ.

Despite our constant engagement with the FMOH on this issue, it was shocking to us that it took the conciliatory meeting by the HMoLE for the FMOH to be instructed to go and check if funding for residency training was captured in the 2021 budget. This is pitiful as well as awful.

9. Immediate review of the Act regulating Postgraduate Medical Training in Nigeria in line with international best practices to remove the unnecessary rigors in residency training in Nigeria, one of the factors attributed to brain drain in the health sector.

Nothing also has been done here.

10. The reintroduction of medical super salary structure and specialist allowance for all Doctors as already approved for some other health workers.

No mention was made about this very germane demand of our members. 

This further buttresses the insincerity amongst government officials which has stalled meaningful negotiations in the wake of the current impasse.