Nigeria’s minister of health,Osagie Ehanire, on Thursday said consultant doctors and youth service corp members have been mobilised to carry out the activities of resident doctors who are on strike.
Ehanire gave the announcement during a state media house briefing.
Ehanaire said it is a wrong time for doctors to embark on strike as the country is in a “vulnerable period”.
In his words: “Although the resident doctors have gone on strike, and as I said before, we are appealing to them not to use this very vulnerable period when the country is facing a war.
“For those of you who have been very keenly following international news, you know the havoc that the Delta variant did in India, and what it has done and it is doing in Indonesia, Ireland, and other countries.
“We have only one or two percent of eligible Nigerians vaccinated. So we are really facing something like a war. When you face a war, that is not the time that soldiers say they are not going to fight.”
The minister appealed to the striking doctors to call off the strike, adding that the government is working to meet their demands.
“We don’t want to see here, what happened in India where they also lost 400,000 lives due to COVID-19 Delta strain, we don’t want that,” he said.
He called on the striking doctors to join forces with the government to “face this common enemy”.
“But even then, during this strike, we have mobilised all consultants and youth corpers and all those who render services to ensure they are rendering service, to ensure that the hospital services do not collapse and everybody is doing very well,” the minister added.
“I salute the consultants and youths corpers and all those who are not on strike, who are giving service and also the private sector who are supporting us. The private sector is rising up to the challenge to make sure that health services, one way or the order, are going on and there is not serious distress in the hospitals.”
Speaking on the ‘no work, no pay’ directive issued in the wake of the strike, Ehanire said it is not to threaten the doctors, but an international practice.
“Nobody is threatening anybody with anything. That is a standard thing, that is the International Labour Organisation (ILO) recommendation that if you didn’t work why will you get paid,” he said.
“Your salary comes from taxpayers money, so if you didn’t work why should you go and be saying you should be paid because if that is so, you can be encouraged to stay home for up to six months and your salary is running from public funds, from taxpayers money and you have not given the community any service.”
The resident doctors embarked on a nationwide strike on August 2, citing irregular payment of salaries, hazard allowances, among other issues.