As resident doctors began an indefinite nationwide strike, normal medical activities were still going on in the three affected Federal and State Government-owned health institutions visited on Tuesday in Lagos.
The affected hospitals were the Lagos University Teaching Hospital, Idi-Araba, Lagos; Lagos State University Teaching Hospital, Ikeja and the Federal Neuro-psychiatric Hospital, Yaba.
The National Association of Resident Doctors had on September 4 directed its members nationwide to embark on an indefinite strike to pressurise the government to meet its demands.
NAN reports that the strike notice was signed by Dr John Onyebueze and Dr Aneke Emmanuel, the National President and Secretary, National Association of Resident Doctors respectively.
The News Agency of Nigeria reporters gathered from the affected hospitals that consultant and other categories of health workers, including nurses, pharmacists, laboratory technicians and cleaners were seen attending to the patients.
At LUTH, NAN reports that patients on admission were seen in various wards being attended to by other medical personnel led by consultants.
When contacted, Dr Adebayo Sekunmade, President of Association of Resident Doctors, LUTH-ARD chapter, told NAN that the strike was a directive from the national body.
Sekunmade, while urging Nigerians to show understanding with the doctors, said that the doctors have their interests at heart.
According to him, we have joined our other colleagues across the country in the national strike to fight for our right.
Sekunmade said: “We have set up strike monitoring team to ensure that every member of the association comply with the directive.
“In spite of the strike, we are still providing skeletal services for patients that come to the Accident and Emergency Department.
“We are not running clinics; we are not doing non-emergency services, but the consultants are not on strike.
“Some of our demands are the issue of persistent salary shortfalls, unpaid arrears of salaries, stagnation of promotion, stoppage of budgeting, among others.”
In his comments, Prof. Olufemi Fasanmade, the Chief Medical Advisory Committee of LUTH, said that the ARD strike was a national strike which “some of our resident doctors were compelled to join”.
Fasanmade said that consultants and other health workers were still attending and admitting patients into the hospital.
At the Neuro-psychiatric, Dr Bolanle Ajayi, the ARD president, said that the strike was hundred per cent.
Ajayi said that consultants and other health workers were on duty attending to the patients.
Also at LASUTH, Dr Adebola Badmus, LASUTH-ARD, said that the hospital was in full compliance with the directive from the national body of the association.
One of the patients at LUTH, Folasade Ilori, said that the strike should have been avoided in the interest of patients.
Ilori said: “Strike in the health institutions should be avoided by all means, because it is very dangerous due to the fact that people’s lives are involved.
“We want the government to always ensure that doctors’ demands are met in order to avoid incessant strikes in our teaching hospitals.”
Another patient, Yinka Elemo, appealed to the striking doctors and the Federal Government to reach an agreement that would put a stop to this menace in the nation’s teaching hospitals.
Elemo said: “Majority of Nigerians cannot afford the medical service at the private hospitals and our only hope is the government hospitals.
“Consultants alone cannot attend to us all.
“We are pleading with the doctors and government to reach an agreement that will end the strike for the patients to get necessary medical attention and treatments.”
Among issues being agitated by NARD include persistent shortfalls and unpaid arrears of salaries in both federal and state tertiary health institutions.
Another issue raised was the enrollment of resident doctors into the integrated Personnel Payroll Information System since 2003.
The doctors were also complaining about the stagnation of promotion and non-promotion of members who have met the requisite criteria and non-implementation of adjusted House Officers’ Entry grade level equivalent since 2014.