By G9ija

The National Association of Resident Doctors (NARD) called off its strike on Thursday, four days after it began.

The association in a statement made available to newsmen said its National Executive Council resolved to suspend the strike with effect from Friday by 8 a.m.

It said the decision was taken in order to give the federal government time to address its demands. The new development, the association said, will be reviewed in two weeks.

The doctors union, however, said local chapters of its association that are not satisfied with the conditions of service are allowed to continue the industrial action at their respective states.

“NEC resolved to suspend the ongoing indefinite nationwide strike action from tomorrow 11th of September 2020 by 8am

“However local chapters where the conditions of service have not improved should continue on the industrial action at the respective states until their demands are met to be reviewed in 2 weeks’ time,” the statement said.

Resident doctors are certified doctors undergoing residency to become consultants. They make up a large percentage of doctors in Nigeria’s tertiary hospitals.

It was reported how the doctors began a nationwide “indefinite strike” on Monday amid Nigeria’s continued fight against the deadly coronavirus pandemic.

The doctors are protesting the non-implementation of life insurance for those of them treating COVID-19 patients; the non-funding of their residency programme, hazard allowances and some unpaid arrears.

The doctors had in June downed tools for one week over the same outstanding demands.

In its initial response to the doctor’s decision on Monday, the government said the doctors have no reason to down tools as more than half of their demands had been addressed.

“Government has already addressed six out of the eight demands listed by the Association. With such a high percentage of the Association’s demands already addressed… the NARD had no reason to embark on an industrial action,” the minister of labour, Chris Ngige, had said.

The minister then called for a meeting to resolve the grievances of the doctors.

At he meeting between the two parties which held on Wednesday in Abuja, the government threatened to revoke the residency programme which is also a bone of contention.

Health workers, being the first respondents to patients, face exposure to coronavirus and as a result, more than a thousand have tested positive for COVID-19.

They have repeatedly protested the lack of access to full Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) and life insurance especially for their members treating people suffering from COVID-19, a rare strain of coronavirus that has killed over 900,000 people globally.

The Nigerian government had promised a special COVID-19 hazard and inducement allowance of 50 per cent of Consolidated Basic Salary to health workers in federal health institutions and designated COVID-19 centres.

Prior to this, health workers received N5,000 as hazard pay across the board.

The government had also promised frontline health workers life insurance, but this promise has not been kept, according to the president of the NARD, Aliyu Sokomba.

Following its decision to suspend the industrial action, Mr Sokomba appealed to relevant stakeholders to ensure that the government keeps its side of the bargain.