Second strike in half a year: is Nigerian healthcare collapsing?
In the morning hours of August 2, 2021, resident doctors across Nigerian public hospitals commenced an indefinite strike, protesting against the non-payment of salaries and life insurances, delay of hazard pay, and lack of medical equipment. The strike is led by the National Association of Resident Doctors of Nigeria (NARD), a medical association representing 40 percent of Nigerian doctors.
The current strike is not the first one in 2021. In April 2021, NARD had started an indefinite strike on similar terms; resident doctors were asking the government of Nigeria to resolve welfare, training, and sanitary issues. Shortly after, a 113-day ultimatum had been issued, giving the government of Nigeria time to pay the overdue salaries and improve working conditions.
On July 31, 2021, the President of the NARD, Dr. Okhuaihesuyi Uyilawa, announced that the ultimatum is due to expire on August 2, 2021, and that the doctors’ demands had not been met. Therefore, the new strike was unavoidable.
The public and Nigerian authorities fear that the new strike would further destabilize the country’s healthcare system, which is currently battling the third wave of the COVID-19 pandemic. As of August 2, 2021, more than 174,000 (one hundred seventy-four thousand) COVID-19 cases have been reported since the start of the pandemic. Dr. Okhuaihesuyi Uyilawa expressed his apologies to the Nigerian population and noted that the NARD sees the strike as the only way to make the government of Nigeria respect the doctors’ working rights.
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