Doctors Threaten Strike Amid FG, ASUU Stand-off

Doctors Threaten Strike Amid FG, ASUU Stand-off
  • Members owed 10-months salaries –NARD
  • Says federal, state governments defaulted on agreements
  • NCDC records 857 Lassa fever cases with 164 deaths  
  • UN fears 1.2m new HIV infections in 3yrs as response decline 

From David Christopher (Lafia) and Blessing Otobong-Gabriel, Abuja 

Amid the lingering Academic Staff Union of University, ASUU and Federal Government impasse, medical doctors under the umbrella of National Association of Resident Doctors, NARD, have again threatened to embark on industrial action should the Federal Government fail to meet their demands.

This was contained in a communiqué signed by NARD President, Godiya Ishaya, at the end of the association’s National Executive Council, NEC meeting held from July 25 to 30 in Lafia, Nasarawa State capital.

The communiqué read in parts: “The NEC shall by the expiration of the two weeks ultimatum, reconvene to review the progress made so far and take further actions for which nationwide industrial harmony may not be guaranteed”, the doctors said in their communiqué. 

The association stated that both Federal and State Governments have defaulted on agreements made with the doctors.

Arrears for 2014, 2015, and 2016 have remained unpaid despite several negotiations with the government, NARD stated.

Pointing out Imo, Ondo, Ekiti, and Gombe States are owing its members 10, five, three, and two months respectively, in salaries and other arrears.

Besides, it recalled that since the implementation of a new minimum wage in 2019, some of their members are yet to benefit from the consequential adjustment.

In the same vein the NEC of the association has demanded the immediate payment of consequential adjustment of minimum wage to our members who have been deprived of this benefit since it was implemented several years ago, in addition to immediate review of the Consolidated Medical Salary Structure, CONMESS, and other related allowances given the current economic situation in the country.

Furthermore, appealed to the government to increase allocation to the health sector to 15% of the national budget as agreed by heads of African countries in the Abuja declaration.

Meanwhile, Lassa fever cases in Nigeria have jumped to 857 and 164 people have so far died from the disease in the first seven months of 2022, the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control, NCDC, said this in its latest Lassa fever situation report for week 29, which showed that there were 857 confirmed cases of the disease in the country.

Lassa fever is a viral hemorrhagic fever transmitted by rats.It has been known since the 1950s, but the virus was not identified until 1969 when two missionary nurses died from it in the town of Lassa in Nigeria.

Found predominantly in West Africa, it has the potential to cause tens of thousands of deaths.Even after recovery, the virus remains in body fluids, including semen.

Neighbouring countries are also at risk, as the animal vector for the Lassa virus, the “multimammate rat” ,Mastomys natalensis, is distributed throughout the region.

The NCDC said that the cases were distributed across 24 states and 99 local government areas in the country.It said that 54 healthcare workers had been infected with the disease.

“A breakdown indicated that of all confirmed cases, Ondo has 30% Edo, 26% and Bauchi 14% states.

“In week 29, the number of new confirmed cases increased from five in week 28, 2022 to cases. These were reported from Edo and Ondo States.

“Cumulatively from week 1 to week 29, 2022, 164 deaths have been reported with a Case Fatality Rate ,CFR, of 19.1% which is lower than the CFR for the same period in 2021, 23.7%.

“In total for 2022, 24 States have recorded at least one confirmed case across 99 Local Government Areas.“Of all confirmed cases, 70% are from Ondo – 30% Edo – 26% and Bauchi -14% cases.

“The predominant age group affected is 21-30 years range: 0 to 90 years, Median Age:30 years. The male-to-female ratio for confirmed cases is 1:0.8.

“The number of suspected cases has increased compared to that reported for the same period in 2021.

“One new healthcare worker was affected in Ondo State”, it said.

The virus is transmitted to man by infected multimammate rats and humans become infected from direct contact with the urine and faeces of the rat carrying the virus.

People also contract the disease by touching soiled objects, eating contaminated food, or exposure to open cuts or sores.

Secondary transmission from person to person can also occur as a result of exposure to the virus in the blood, tissue, urine, faeces or other bodily secretions of an infected patient.

Lassa fever is a zoonotic disease associated with high morbidity and mortality, and it has both economic and health security implications.

In another development Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS, UNAIDS, has said that globally, 4,000 people a day are still being infected with HIV and that if current trends continue; 1.2 million people will be newly infected with HIV in 2025.

The UN body’s latest report entitled; “In Danger”, indicated that progress against HIV has slowed down since the COVID-19 pandemic.Speaking at its launch, UNAIDS Director, Winnie Byanyima, said progress in prevention and treatment of HIV is declining and putting millions of people in grave danger globally. 

Eastern Europe and Central Asia, Latin America, the Middle East, and North Africa have all seen increases in annual HIV infections, according to Ms Byanyima.She added that, “In Asia and the Pacific, UNAIDS data now shows new HIV infections are rising where they had been falling.

Action to tackle the inequalities driving AIDS is urgently required to prevent millions of new HIV infections this decade and to end the AIDS pandemic”, while countries with the biggest increases in new HIV infections include the Philippines, Madagascar, Congo, and South Sudan.HIV funds from bilateral donors other than the US have plummeted by 57% over the last decade, the report showed. 

It also indicated that “World Bank projects that 52 countries, home to 43% of people living with HIV, will experience a significant drop in their public spending capacity through 2026”.The UNAIDs reports 70% of new infections are in groups designated as “key populations” for their particular vulnerability to infection.

The groups include men who have sex with men, MSM, sex workers, transgender people, people who inject drugs, and prisoners.

AljazirahNigeria reports that the reports were released ahead of the International AIDS Conference, IAC, currently holding in Montreal, Canada.However, the federal government recently reiterated its commitment to achieving the global targets geared towards ending AIDS by 2030.

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