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Bayelsa begs resident doctors to end strike

The Bayelsa State Government has begged resident doctors in its employ to call off their industrial action as the government was working hard to address their grievances.

Governor Douye Diri made the appeal during a meeting between the state government and representatives of the National Association of Resident Doctors and the state chapter of the Nigerian Medical Association, at the Government House, Yenagoa.

Members of NARD at the state-owned Niger Delta University Teaching Hospital, Okolobiri, refused to resume work on Monday over poor working conditions, despite the suspension of the association’s nationwide strike by its national body on Sunday.

Diri, who was represented by his deputy, Lawrence Ewhrudjakpo, said that his administration was already addressing two out of the three major demands of the association.

He said, “We are aware of your working conditions, which have been compounded by the COVID-19 pandemic. Health facilities are overstretched in the country. So this is not the right time to go on strike.

“But, let me assure you that two of the three hot issues you have raised in this meeting are already being tackled by the present administration because of the premium we place on our health sector.

“For instance, on the issue of employment, His Excellency, the Governor graciously approved the employment of some doctors and nurses in the NDUTH as we came on board.”

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Diri expressed his administration’s gratitude to the sacrifices and invaluable contributions being made by doctors and other health workers, particularly in the handling of the COVID-19 infections and other epidemics in the past.

Earlier in their separate remarks, the president of NARD, NDUTH chapter, Dr Olu Inestol, and his predecessor, Dr Tuko Evans, identified the disparity in earnings between doctors working in federal and state-owned health institutions due to improper placement in terms of salary scale.

Chairman of the state NMA, Dr Peter Alabrah, urged the state government to domesticate and ensure the implementation of the Residency Training Act, saying it was critical to the grooming of healthcare professionals.

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