Doctors in Ekiti vowed not to call off their strike until the government met their welfare demands.
The state chapter of the Nigerian Medical Association (NMA) said the strike was necessary and should not be misconstrued, especially in the face of the COVID-19 pandemic.
The association, in a statement issued by its Chairman, Dr Tunji Omotayo, said the strike was necessitated by the poor welfare condition of the doctors.
Doctors working with the state Health Management Board (HMB), covering three specialist hospitals, 19 general hospitals and primary healthcare facilities, had, about two weeks ago, withdrawn their services over alleged wage disparity and unpaid allowances, among other matters.
The doctors were operating under the aegis of National Association of Government General Medical and Dental Practitioners (NAGGMD),
Omotayo said his members decided to embark on the strike after exhausting the 28-day ultimatum issued to the government without getting positive response from the state on their demands.
The NMA chairman said: “The implication of failure to implement skipping allowance is that doctors will only endure the hostile working conditions government’s job until they can secure more attractive jobs elsewhere.
“This is why the number of doctors under the employment of HMB will continue to reduce.
“Just like skipping, only the doctors in the employment of HMB are not being paid hazard allowance. Unlike other doctors all over the country, this has not been paid to the doctors in the last 10 years.
“For over 10 years, doctors have endured 50 per cent implementation of rural posting allowance, despite assurances to regularise it within six months.”
He also complained about a heavy workload.
“HMB is responsible for the management of the hospitals and has about 70 doctors to run the 22 specialist and general hospitals. This means that an average of three doctors per hospital, with some of the hospitals having only one doctor each.
“The three specialist hospitals had 15 consultants, but are now left with just five. In the primary healthcare sector, there are only 12 doctors, leaving some local government areas without clinical cover for their primary healthcare facilities,” he Omotayo said.
Ekiti Commissioner for Health, Dr Mojisola Yahaya-Kolade, denied that Governor Kayode Fayemi was not responsive to doctors demands.
She said the government was in talks with leaders of the striking doctors, adding that negotiations would be guided by economic realities.
The commissioner expressed optimism that both the government and the striking doctors would agree on a better template that would be mutually beneficial.
“It’s not that the government isn’t ready to listen to them but the timing is of importance. This is the time most governments are spending quite a lot of money on the pandemic.
“I can confirm to you that negotiation is ongoing. I assure that workers will get the best deal,” she said.