Strike: Hold Government Responsible, We’re Suffering Too – Doctors Tell Patients

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Doctors, under the aegis of National Association of Government General Medical and Dental Practitioners (NAGGMDP) have urged Nigerians, especially patients at various hospitals to hold government responsible for the ongoing industrial action embarked upon by the National Association of Resident Doctors.

This as they also berated the Nigeria Governors’ Forum (NGF) for not doing enough to save the health sector from collapse, noting that doctors were also suffering and seeking for alternative source of income.

Speaking on Friday at the Association’s first Abuja Scientific Conference and Inaugural General Meeting with the theme “Entrepreneurship in Medical Practice: How Feasible”, NAGGMDP’s National president, Noel Dokun, lamented the neglect of the health sector by government at all levels.

The resident doctors had embarked on strike on April 1 to press home their demand for upward review of their N5000 hazard allowance, payment of outstanding COVID-19 inducement allowance, among others.

According to Dokun, “No doctor wants to leave his patient to suffer unduly,”, adding that the doctors were pushed to the wall and had to resort to strike to press home their demands.

He lamented that due to the poor conditions of Nigeria’s health care, bad remuneration and deteriorating hospital facilities, many medical doctors were abandoning the country for greener pastures abroad.

While accusing the government of dishing out propaganda to turn the citizens against doctors, Dokun said the exodus had increased the workload of doctors who were still in government service, and would affect good health care delivery.

He said: “Government needs to reawaken to to its responsibility to know that healthcare is a social service and the right of every Nigerian. On the strike, there have always been alternatives. But the fact is that the alternatives have not in most cases yielded any result and that is what always lead to strike.

“Health workers are under paid, facilities are decaying and they are not doing anything but they want doctors to keep on going to work without being able to try our hands on anything. It is sad that people will be suffering but instead they will be telling doctors to do something while the government keeps looking.

“They will also say doctors in Nigeria are well paid but nobody tells you about the resources we put in to get to where we are. Moreover, It is only Nigeria that people say government are well paid because the average salary of a doctor here is about a quarter of what they get in Europe or other part of the world.

“So for someone who is a doctor, there is a quality of life that person ought to live but we can’t not live that way as we have to manage and all of us also can’t run away because our family and citizens will suffer”, he stated.

Chairman, Local Organising Committee, of the conference, Dr. Isaac Akerele, explained that poor remuneration makes it paramount for doctors to look for additional means of surviving.

“It takes a lot for doctors to train themselves and after training people assumed we are overpaid and that is not correct.

“Even our annual due is salary of some people. It takes a lot of resources for us to be abreast of latest technology, skills and knowledge. Doctors are usually not trained to think about business but to always treat patients. But we realise that without money, there will be problem.

“We are suppose to be at the upper class in the society but how you do we live with the peanut being paid by government.

“So we say rather than focusing and fighting for increment in renumeration, we also need to seek alternative source of income and that is entrepreneurship”, he said.