By Onome Oghenetega
The Delta State chapter of the Nigeria Medical Association (NMA) on Monday commenced a three-day warning strike over alleged refusal of the State Government to implement the Special COVID-19 Hazard Allowance for health workers.
The warning strike, it was learned, is in protest to pressurizing the Governor Ifeanyi Okowa-led administration to implement the scheme because of the risk posed by COVID-19 to health workers attending to patients.
Delta is one of the coronavirus most infected states in Nigeria.
It was gathered that aside doctors attending to COVID-19 patients, doctors in the state have fully complied with the directive by downing tools.
At the State owned Teaching Hospital (DELSUTH), Oghara, medical doctors were not seen at their duty posts over the strike.
The State Chairman of the Nigeria Medical Association (NMA), Dr Omo Ekene, had earlier confirmed the warning strike to NIGER DELTA TODAY (NDT) Online.
He lamented that many of his members have tested positive to the virus while in the line of duty, saying other states have implemented the allowance.
Doctors at the Central Hospitals in Warri, Ughelli and Sapele also complied with the striking.
Meanwhile, doctors at the Federal Medical Centre (FMC), Asaba, have declared their support for the warning strike embarked upon by the state chapter of the NMA.
Some of the grievances which are COVID-19 related, include the shortage of Personal Protective Equipments (PPEs), and lack of funding of tertiary institutions needed to manage and curtail the ravaging pandemic.
Addressing a press conference on Sunday, president of ARD, Asaba FMC branch, Dr. Nwabunor Osifo insisted that whatever affected their colleagues in the state NMA also affected them.
Osifo said, “Painfully and against the plethora of assurances given by the Nigerian Governors’ Forum on the speedy implementation of COVID-19 hazard inducement allowance with tax rebate for colleagues in the state employment, most states including ours are yet to do the needful.
“To this end, we throw our full weight in solidarity with Delta State NMA as she embarks on a three-day warning strike effective Monday, July 27, 2020.
“As doctors practicing in the state we join our colleagues in the ministry, Hospital Management Board and DELSUTH, Oghara to embark on this course as an injury to one is injury to all,” he declared.
On the lack of PPEs, the ARD president said doctors were constantly exposed to the deadly virus in the line of duty due to the shortage of the equipments, lamenting that 1,027 doctors across the country have so far contracted the virus, out which 18 have succumbed to it.
“Just last two weeks, Delta NMA lost one of her foremost colleagues among others to this ugly monster.
“Permit me to remind us that COVID-19 is real and lives with us. Let us imbibe all precautionary measures instituted by the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control, and God’s willing we shall combat this virus,” he added.