Doctors in the employ of Ondo State Government have called off their three- month indefinite strike.
The doctors, under the auspices of the National Association of Government General Medical and Dental Practitioners (NAGGMDP), began the strike over alleged poor welfare and payment of percentage salaries by the government.
Other reasons for the strike were non-payment of salary arrears, gross under-staffing of government hospitals following mass exodus of doctors and other health workers from the state, non-regular payment of salaries, non- harmonisation of doctors’ grade level, non-payment of third tranche of COVID-19 allowance and non-implementation of Group Life Insurance for health workers.
Governor Oluwarotimi Akeredolu, responding in a live radio programme, said he was not elected to pay salaries alone and that doctors on the government payroll were not more special than other workers.
He said fund was not available to pay full salary.
Akeredolu added: “Nobody will remember you for salaries paid, but legacies left behind. The challenge is that money is not available. I am not happy about it and we are all not happy.
“If there is money, we’ll pay. We inherited six-month arrears and we paid. But we have to balance everything. It is only about five per cent of the people collecting salaries, what about the rest 95 per cent?”
The state Chairman of the Nigeria Medical Association (NMA), Dr. Stella Adegbehingbe, announced suspension of the strike at an interactive session with doctors and members of the House of Assembly Committee on Health.
The committee Chairman, Dr. Abiodun Faleye, had appealed to the striking doctors to consider the health and general well-being of residents.
He assured the doctors that the legislative arm would liaise with the executive to find a solution to the issues raised by the doctors.
The Ondo NMA chairman urged the stakeholders to appeal to the government to pay their salary.
She assured the lawmakers that the doctors would return to work soon in the interest of the people.
Adegbehingbe urged the government to prioritise the welfare of doctors and other health workers for effective health care delivery.
Reacting to an inquiry about their salaries, she said: “They are yet to pay doctors. Even doctors that are not on strike have not been paid. The last salary we were paid is that of February 2021. Monarchs and religious leaders have appealed to us to suspend the strike and we have listened to them.”
The state General Secretary of the National Association of Residents Doctors, Dr. John Mattew, said the association had called off its strike locally, but awaiting official announcement from its national body.
Credit: THE NATION