The Nigerian health sector may soon be facing a crippling shutdown as the National Association of Resident Doctors (NARD) has issued a two-week ultimatum to the Federal Government.
The association has made several demands, including the withdrawal of a bill that seeks to prevent Nigerian doctors from obtaining full practicing licenses or traveling abroad for five years. They also demanded a 200 percent salary increment for doctors, among others.
The President of NARD, Dr Emeka Innocent, voiced the warning during an Extra Ordinary National Executive Council Meeting held in Abeokuta, Ogun State.
Innocent also expressed disappointment with the government’s refusal to pay salary arrears from 2014 to 2016 and implement the appropriate CONMESS structure, domesticate the medical residency training act, and improve the hazard allowance paid to NARD members.
Innocent said “despite several engagements with FG on the need to upwardly review the Consolidated Medical Salary Structure, CONMESS, which was last reviewed over ten years ago.
“The government has neither engaged NARD in the negotiation table nor taken any step in addressing the issue.There had been previous ultimatums issued to the government on account of the salary structure review.
“In the nine-point resolutions, the body demanded an “immediate increment in the CONMESS salary structure to the tune of 200% of the current gross salary of doctors in addition to the new allowances included in the letter written by NARD to the Honorable Minister of Health on the 7th of July 2022 for the review of CONMESS.”
According to him, the two weeks ultimatum begins Saturday 29th of April 2023, to resolve all these demands, following the expiration of which on the 13th of May, we may not be able to guarantee industrial harmony in the sector nationwide.
The potential shutdown of the health sector would undoubtedly cause significant disruption to healthcare services, affecting millions of Nigerians.
Doctors play a critical role in the healthcare system, and their absence could lead to a surge in mortality rates, especially for those who rely on government-run hospitals for medical attention.