The Nasarawa State chapter of the Nigeria Medical Association (NMA) has embarked on a five-day warning strike over the refusal of the government to increase their salaries, among other challenges.
The latest action by the medical practitioners is following the expiration of the three-week ultimatum they issued to the government earlier.
AN24.net understands that the association had earlier, on June 13, issued a three-week ultimatum regarding member welfare issues.
The government, however, reportedly refused to act positively to their demands.
Announcing the strike action on Wednesday, July 5, the state NMA Chairman, Dr Peter Attah, said the association resolved to go on strike following its resolution at an emergency meeting on Tuesday (yesterday).
The NMA chairman told journalists at a press conference in Lafia, the state capital, that he informed the congress of a previous meeting with a government delegation led by Dr Emmanuel Akabe, the Deputy Governor, on two occasions but that no meaningful commitment was received from the government.
He said: “We met two times after our ultimatum on June 13, but unfortunately, the government is only paying lip service and was not serious about meeting our demands.”
He added that after hearing the updates, the congress unanimously agreed that members should withdraw their services in all the state government-owned facilities from 8:00 am on Wednesday, July 5, to 8:00 am on Monday, July 10.
“If by Monday July 10, the government still refuses to meet our demands, we will call for a congress meeting and decide on the next line of action,” Dr. Attah added.
The NMA chairman further said that because the association has the interest of the health sector at heart, it decided to allow doctors with Federal Medical Centre (FMC) Keffi to continue to render services for now.
“But if the government refuses to resolve the lingering issues by Monday, we may be forced to ask our colleagues in FMC and private facilities to join the strike,” he said.
He listed some of their demands to include non-implementation of promotions for doctors and annual salary increments for over nine years, non-implementation of N30,000 minimum wage and consequential adjustments.
Others are non-implementation of the reviewed hazard allowance circular and the accrued 19 months arrears, high burden of taxation, inadequate manpower and overworking.
He said that 25 doctors who were employed in 2014 at Dalhatu Araf Specialist Hospital (DASH) Lafia and the State Hospital Management Board were not promoted for nine years now.
The NMA chairman stressed that the association had given the state government enough time to address their demands, but the government seemed insensitive to their plight.
He revealed further that 88 medical doctors left the service of the state in 2023 alone due to a poor welfare package.
He explained that the shortage of doctors is putting so much pressure on the few ones who have decided to stay, to the extent that doctors now prefer to work in rural areas than facilities in urban areas.
He explained that the 19 general hospitals in the state have only 33 doctors, which he described as grossly inadequate by any standard.