True to their threat to embark on another nationwide indefinite strike from 2nd August, 2021, doctors at the Abubakar Tafawa Balewa University Teaching Hospital (ATBUTH), Bauchi, on Monday downed tools, leaving patients and their relatives to lament.
The doctors, under the aegis of National Association of Resident Doctors (NARD), had in a communiqué issued at the end of their National Executive Council meeting in Umuahia, Abia State, stated that having appraised the performance of both the Federal and state governments on issues affecting welfare of their members as well as government’s insincerity in implementing the Memorandum of Action after over 100 days, they resolved by vote to resume the total and indefinite strike by Monday (today).
The doctors demanded, among others, the immediate withdrawal of the circular removing House Officers from the scheme of service and decried the undue hardship doctors on GIFMIS platform were facing due to the delays in payment of their salary arrears ranging from three to seven months.
NARD further expressed concern over the poor response of most state governments in domesticating the Medical Residency Training Act of 2017 while commending states like Delta and Benue, for adopting the law.
It was lamentations galore when DAILY POST visited ATBUTH, Bauchi, on Monday morning to find out the level of compliance of NARD members in the hospital with the directive of the association on the strike as patients and their relatives complained about the timing of the strike and called on government to immediately intervene.
Patients on admission were seen leaving the hospital for their homes or private hospitals after they were discharged untimely by the striking doctors, while there was no available doctor to attend to patients at the outpatient unit of the hospital.
A visit round to various wards in the hospital revealed nearly empty wards as relatives of patients on admission were seen packing their belonging in readiness to leave the hospital, having been notified of the commencement of the indefinite strike.
A resident pediatric doctor, who spoke with DAILY POST on condition of anonymity, lamented that the strike, which he described as unfortunate, was needless if government had done the needful since NARD called off its last strike action.
According to the pediatrician, “This strike is so unfortunately. In fact, it is needless if the government has done the right things they supposed to since the last time we went on an indefinite strike.
“Unfortunately, it is not every Nigerian who can afford to be treated at private hospitals. There are people whose conditions are very critical who may not afford private hospitals at this time. Some of these Nigerians may unfortunately die due to this strike.
“Nigerians should not only appeal to the government but also hold government officials responsible to these kinds of death that are avoidable. Doctors are human beings as well but the government must implement their agreement with us for the betterment of the Nigerian health sector.”
He, however, expressed the hope that the current strike would not be allowed to last long, assuring that as soon as government intervenes and does the needful, doctors would go back to work.
A relative of a patient, who simply identified himself as Yunusa while speaking with DAILY POST at the male adult ward, lamented that doctors commenced another strike now that things are very difficult for average Nigerians.
According to him, “my uncle was admitted here about two weeks ago and he has been receiving treatment before they told us that doctors would no longer attend to him and others on admission because of a strike.
“This is unfortunate. This strike is not well timed at all. It is coming at a time things are very difficult for the average Nigerians. As it is now, we have to take my uncle to a private hospital in town to continue with his treatment. What is going to happen to those who cannot afford to pay for private hospital treatments?”
Another patient’s relative, who pleaded not to be named, called on both government and resident doctors to immediately hold talks with a view to resolving whatever issues they have for the sake of poor and suffering Nigerians.
“Let both government and doctors dialogue; this is very important in order for them to solve their differences for the good of poor and suffering Nigerians,” she passionately appealed.