Show empathy, lost lives not replaceable, Health Minister tells striking doctors

The Minister of Health, Dr Osagie Ehanire, told the National Association of Resident Doctors (NARD) on Monday that they cannot go on strike during a very difficult situation like this, when the country, like other nations of the world, are battling the COVID-19 pandemic.

He warned the doctors who have threatened to embark on strike that the lives that may be lost in that process are not replaceable.

The minister, who was speaking during the Presidential Task Force briefing on COVID-19, charged the residents doctors to show enough empathy.

Ehanire said: “I also did request that this is not the time to go on strike. Not when we have such a very difficult situation on our hands, and I did request of them to show enough empathy to know that you can make your demands to continue working on those demands and do not down-tools because the lives that may be lost in that process are not replaceable.”

He pointed out that it was very certain the issues that were raised by the doctors would be attended to even though some of them were not new and have nothing to do with COVID-19.

He assured that the issues are all being attended to, adding that there was a meeting held with the House Committee on Health on Monday, while another meeting would hold on Tuesday with the Minister of Labour, who has been doing a great job to ensure the issue was resolved.

The minister said: “Today, we already had a meeting with the House Committee Chairman on Health and with the National Association of Resident Doctors (NARD), in attendance. At that meeting, they have not yet declared their position on the strike but it was from the meeting that we are able to clarify many of the issues that they had been raising.

“The one concerns with PPE for example, and concerning COVID-19 has been dealt with. We have supplied PPE to states and Teaching Hospitals so, that one is off the table. The one on the healthcare workers both at the front line of COVID-19 and rear line are being attended to.

“In fact, there is a meeting to which we are again invited tomorrow (Tuesday), and the Minister of Labour is doing a great job and the members of the National Assembly are doing a great job to make sure these issues are attended to.”

He emphasized that Nigeria needed, as a matter of urgency, to be proactive in keeping the COVID-19 fatalities low.

The minister said: “The increasing pace of testing will yield more cases, but we need to also be proactive in keeping fatalities low. It is still strongly advised that those who test positive present themselves at a treatment centre; this is most especially so for those with underlying ailments like diabetes, hypertension or are above 60 years of age.”

On the update, he added: “Yesterday, 403 new COVID-19 cases were confirmed, which increased the total number to 16,085. We have treated and discharged 5,220 persons and sadly lost 420 persons to the disease. Despite the rising figures, the case fatality rate remains at about 3%, which is lower than in many countries, but not a cause for relief.”

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