The Minister of Health, Osagie Ehanire, yesterday urged the striking resident doctors to return to work.
He made the call in Abuja during a virtual news briefing to mark this year’s World Health Day.
“I call on our striking resident doctors to call off their strike and return to work as this is not a good time for such activities. House officers have started receiving their outstanding entitlements and we’re working assiduously to address other issues raised by the doctors,” he said.
Ngide said the theme of this year’s World Health Day, ‘Building a Fairer, Healthier World for Everyone’ was a reminded that access to healthcare was no longer to be taken as a privilege but as a human right.
He said despite the government’s best efforts, important lessons must be learned from the COVID-19 response.
He said a first step towards this was optimum financing and release of health budgets in states and local governments, noting to ensure this, that the Federal Government had operationalized the Basic Health Care Provision Fund as provided for in the National Health Act 2014.
Matshidiso Moeti, WHO Regional Director for Africa, whose speech was read by Walter Kazadi-Mulombo, Country Representative, said at least half of the world’s population still lacked access to essential health services.
Moeti said over 800 million people spent at least 10% of their household income on health care, and out of pocket expenses drive almost 100 million people into poverty each year.
Meanwhile, the Nigerian Association of Resident Doctors has said that it will continue its ongoing indefinite strike that started on April 1 as the government was yet to meet its demands.
The association stated this in a communiqué issued after its virtual national executive council meeting last night. The meeting was held to review the strike action and the government’s offers.
It blamed Ngige for feigning ignorance on the amount paid for hazard allowance on national television yesterday.
“This is an all-time low coming from someone who has been in the Nigeria Senate where monthly hardship allowance for senators is N1,242,122.70.
“Demanding for five weeks for its review despite the ongoing strike is really shameful. A sincere government should immediately call all stakeholders together to address this issue ones and for all,” the association said.