Today in Nigeria public sector doctors started a strike to protest against non-payment of past-due salaries and lack of funds for hospitals. This strike is happening while Nigeria, Africa’s most populous country, is awaiting a third wave of coronavirus.
Doctors in Nigeria’s public hospitals went on strike today the 2nd of August to protest against non-payment of past-due salaries and lack of resources in the hospitals, where a third wave of the coronavirus pandemic is near. The strike, the latest led by the National Association of Trainees (Nard), which represents 40% of Nigeria’s doctors, began at 08:00 this morning.
With the national strike, the doctor’s union is calling on the Nigerian government to fulfill its promise to pay compensation to the families of doctors who died heroically while fighting the coronavirus pandemic. “We are asking the government to pay life insurance to 19 of our members who died while working on the frontlines,” the union president added.
Two doctors for about 10 000 people in Nigeria
This is nothing new, doctors in Nigeria regularly threaten to strike in the hope of getting owed salaries paid and an increase in funding for the country’s poorly funded public hospitals. The doctor’s complaints mostly stem from the fact that the facilities do not have enough beds, medicines, and protective gear. In Nigeria, a country of 200 million people, there were only 42,000 registered general practitioners in 2019, according to the Nigerian Medical Association (NMA), or two doctors for every 10,000 inhabitants. This figure is extremely low according to the WHO.
COVID-19 figures likely Underestimated
When the first cases of coronavirus emerged in the country in March, NMA President Dr. Francis Faduyile said that “70-80% of public health facilities did not have running water or enough clean water to wash hands”. Authorities fear the strike could further destabilize a weak health system that is already strained by the coronavirus epidemic at a time when the population needs to be vaccinated. Nigeria has officially recorded 174 315 cases of coronavirus and 2149 deaths. However, these figures are underestimated because the number of tests performed is very low.
In July, the Nigerian Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) announced the discovery of a highly contagious variant of the Delta virus, prompting the authorities to warn of a third outbreak for which they are poorly prepared for.
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