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COVID-19 doctors ordered to join nationwide strike

Doctors at the COVID-19 isolation centres have been ordered to join resident doctors nationwide strike which began on April 1.

The President of the National Association of Resident Doctors, Uyilawa Okhuaihesuyi gave the order on Monday during an interview with The PUNCH.

In an an internal memo sent out to members, NARD also threatened to impose a fine of N5m on any of its branches which fails to join the strike and would not be able to hold any national position for the next two years.

On April 1 when the nationwide strike began, there were reports that members of the association at the COVID-19 isolations did not join the strike on compassionate grounds.

The internal memo read in part, “NARD affirms her commitment to the welfare of all members. All members of NARD will be levied the sum of N2,500 as strike levy for the smooth prosecution of the industrial action.

“Penalty for any centre that sabotages the industrial action will be payment of a fine of N5m and suspension from holding any NARD national officers committee positions for two years.”

Meanwhile, it was learnt that the strike, which entered its fifth day on Monday, might be taking its toll on the COVID-19 response.

Okhuaihesuyi said doctors at the isolation centres, who are their members, were asked to join the strike because of the importance of this particular industrial action.

“I know some people may think we are selfish but this strike is about improving the health sector and improving service delivery,” he said.

The NARD President, however, said consultant doctors should be able to handle emergencies at the isolation centres for now.

NARD comprises over 40 per cent of the total number of doctors in Nigeria. There are some 42,000 doctors in Nigeria, out of which 16,000 are resident doctors – medical school graduates training as specialists.

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