The Federal Government on Tuesday, begged the members of the Nigerian Association of Resident Doctors (NARD) to shelve their planned nationwide protest and end the ongoing strike for the sake of Nigerians who are dying in numbers in the hospitals across the country.
The Permanent Secretary, Federal Ministry of Labour and Employment, Daju Kachallom, made this appeal in Abuja when she addressed the newsmen. The Perm Sec begged the NARD members not to allow more Nigerians to die due to their absence in the hospitals.
She went on to plead with the striking doctors to return to work without further delay to save their fellow countrymen whose lives are hanging between life and death.
She vowed that government is working assiduously to meet all the demands of NARD in a short period of time.
Kachallom further explained that the major issues to which NARD had insisted prompt response, were the Medical Residency Training Fund (MRTF) and the one on one replacement of doctors in hospitals
She also said that while the committee set up to look into the issues raised by NARD needs to conclude their work within the time frame given and submit recommendations for government to work with, government had appealed to the striking doctors to exercise little patience for ministers to come on board.
She said: “We held another meeting here on the 17th of July 2023 to review the level of implementation from the government side and we appealed to them (NARD) that complete carry away unless governments see to what they can do because this is a new regime; we just came in on the 29th of May, and we couldn’t welcome them with a 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 do 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 the 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 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 issue in the health sector for him to intervene, we are awaiting his response.”
Furthermore, explained that an inter-ministerial committee was set up to look into the one on one replacement of doctors. Her words: “We need to determine and establish who exactly is 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 a 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 so 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,
“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 Permanent Secretary 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.”
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