The South East Caucus of National Association of Resident Doctors (NARD) says members in the zone have assumed the indefinite strike in compliance with the national directive of the body.
Dr Dubem Awachie, leader of the caucus and staff of Nnamdi Azikiwe University Teaching Hospital (NAUTH) Nnewi said this in an interview with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in Awka on Tuesday.
NAN reports that the national leadership of ARD on June 15 announced the commencement of an indefinite strike with immediate effect over demands for improved working conditions and COVID-19 hazard allowance.
Awachie said all the 11 branches in the zone had downed tools in solidarity to the national leadership adding that it was total and indefinite.
He however, said that members who were serving in COVID-19 isolation were allowed to continue for the next 14 days after which their services would be drawn if the federal and state governments failed to meet their demand.
The physician decried the level of exposure of Resident Doctors to infectious disease noting that as at June 16, no fewer than 844 medical doctors had been exposed to COVID-19 with 240 confirmed cases and 10 deaths.
“The discussions have been ongoing, the issues border on the proper implementation of our hospitals, but on May 30 there was a meeting after which 14 days ultimatum was issued and NARD had to proceed on this strike after government failed to address the issues.
“The South East zone has 11 tertiary hospitals, which are two in Ebonyi, four in Enugu, two in Anambra, two in Imo and two in Abia and I can tell you that all the 11 branches have complied with the directive.
“It is a total strike, but to give a human face to it, we have allowed our members in special ventures like COVID-19 Isolation centre to continue for the next 14 days.
“Unfortunately, many of our colleagues have continued to succumb to all these infectious diseases, including Lassa Fever and COVID-19 and many have died with no special insurance for them.
“We are sorry for this strike, but there is no better time for it. We cannot continue to compromise the safety and welfare of our members in view of the level of exposure, infections and death among our members,” he said.
Also at the Chukwuemeka Odumegwu Ojukwu University Teaching Hospital (COOUT), Amaku, Awka branch of ARD has joined the nationwide indefinite strike action.
Dr Obinna Aniagbaso, chairman of ARD-COOUTH said no fewer than 70 members had withdrawn their services to the hospital in total compliance to the national directive.
He said some of the particular demands of the branch were full implementation of the Consolidated Medical Salary Scale which he said was presently at 70 per cent.
Aniagbaoso said they would not return to works until further directive from the national body after the federal and state governments would have met their demand.
He said their members in the wards, emergency unit and isolation centres needed maximum protection with personal protection kits and noted that, though the hospital management had tried, it had not been enough
“In Anambra here, they moved us from 40 per cent to 70 per cent of CONMESS, the salary scale is a unified structure so everybody should be at par.
“We also need COVID-19 hazard allowance which is presently at N3, 500 here, but ARD is asking for 40 per cent of basic salary because of the exigencies of the time and level of exposure to infectious disease.
“We shut down our services at COOUTH effectively from today (Tuesday) because we tried to attend to patients yesterday on compassionate grounds, but all our members are off their duty posts now.
“Equipping the hospital is a practical thing and not politics.
“We have not felt the impact of donations in the sector, our strike is collective and only the national body can call us back. But as the federal is discussing with their staff, states should also be doing so,” he said.