Abdulrazaq Mungadi, Gombe
The Gombe State Government has described the indefinite strike action embarked upon by the Association of Resident Doctors (ARD) Monday afternoon as an act of irresponsibility and a move influenced by Nigeria’s major opposition People’s Democratic Party (PDP).
Gombe State Commissioner of Health Dr Ahmed Gana, while addressing a press conference over the doctors’ action, said they have been dragged into politics by leaving their duty post in spite of the lingering global health challenges. He said the strike action came at a time when the world is battling the novel Coronavirus and also when the state is still trying to contain outbreaks of Lassa Fever, among other highly infectious diseases.
In a swift reaction to the state government’s allegation, however, the president of the Gombe State chapter of the ARD, Dr Saidu AB Alhassan, said their action came after the members had exhausted eleven weeks trying to amicably resolve the lingering poor working conditions of the members and many other demands.
“Our demands have nothing to do with the opposition, we are resident doctors and we ready to support any government in our state,” he said.
Earlier, the health commissioner had stated at the press conference that the strike action was against the medical ethics and that it demonstrates the level of insensitivity of the Association to the plight of the public. Dr Gana said: “It is important to note that most of these doctors were sponsored throughout their medical training by the state government and have continued to enjoy several other privileges which other civil servants in the state do not enjoy.”
He added that most of the demands of the Association are not peculiar to doctors, adding that all the problems were inherited from the previous Dankwambo administration, with some dating back to more than three years. According to him, “government is fully aware of the concerns of the resident doctors and has already, despite the financial constraints, set in motion machinery to holistically address the demands in both short and long terms.
“As a short term measure, the sum of N6.65 million has already been released to 13 house officers in order to palliate the effects of their delayed upgrade, pending the constitution of the civil service commission among other measures,” the commissioner stated.
The resident doctors, told reporters, however, that their decision to embark on the strike was a difficult one after reviewing the level of attention their demands had gotten within the 11 weeks of grace and ultimatums given at different times.
The ARD President said: “This agitation resurfaced following the recent massive exodus of about 30 doctors within 3 months. The aim of the strike is to prevent the total collapse of health care delivery due to migration of doctors and consultants from the state. It is not in any way trying to bring hardship to the good people of Gombe State. The nine-point demands have necessitated the strike action.”