From Blessing Ibunge, Port Harcourt
As the National Association of Resident Doctors of Nigeria (NARD) began its nationwide strike on Monday, their counterpart at the University of Port Harcourt Teaching Hospital (UPTH), said they will not be part of it.
They insisted that they will continue to attend to cases of COVID-19 under their care.
It would be recalled that President of NARD, Dr Aliyu Sokomba, had on Monday morning announced the strike action while addressing a press conference in Abuja, the Federal Capital Territory.
According to Dr Sokomba, the union has decided to exempt its members working in various coronavirus (COVID-19) isolation and treatment centres across the country.
He added that the exemption of the members attending to COVID-19 patients will last for two weeks before they join the industrial action.
Meanwhile, the President of the Association of Resident Doctors, UPTH chapter, Dr. Samuel Ameh, said that the branch decided not to join in the strike at the moment following the current health challenge faced by people due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
The doctors, urged the Federal Government to immediately commence processes to meet the demands outlined by the residents doctors in the nation.
Ameh stated that the body had studied the development and found out that the Nigeria Medical Association (NMA), was already working to achieve the demands of the body and needed time to achieve the purpose, adding that it would not be in the interest of the people of the Rivers State if they join in the action.
“We have looked at the issue of the present strike holistically and we have decided that for now, we will not be embarking on the nationwide strike as a local chapter and the reason has to do with the fact that we understand that the leadership of the NMA are negotiating on modalities to actualise some of those demands.
“The fact that we also recognise the peculiarity of the situation in the University of Port Harcourt Teaching Hospital as well as the country at large because of the COVID-19 pandemic and the situation it has created, we realized that all health workers are playing essential roles in helping to stem the tide of the disease and to reduce the impact on all patients in the country.
“It should also be on the order that the demands made by the Nigerian Association of Resident doctors, we understand them and we fully agree with them, however, when putting everything together, we have seen that it won’t be in the best interest of the general population especially, Rivers people if we embark on this strike,” he said.
He urged the Federal Government to endeavor to meet the demands of the body, adding that many doctors and other health workers involved in the fight against COVID-19 have tested positive to the virus.