Nigeria’s Doctors Are Striking. Here’s Why and What This Means for COVID-19.


Well being employee Hajanata Balhelomeu examines a younger little one in a well being clinic in Yola, Adamawa state, Nigeria, January 2020. Pneumonia kills greater than 800,000 youngsters beneath 5 yearly. Nigerian youngsters made up the very best variety of those that died.

© Siegfried Modola/UNI279456/UNICEF

Why International Residents Ought to Care

Attributable to systemic points, coupled with the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, hundreds of thousands of weak Nigerians shouldn’t have entry to high quality well being care — decreasing their high quality of life and their capacity to elevate themselves out of maximum poverty. We should take motion to make sure that each Nigerian has entry to good, high quality well being care. Be part of the motion by taking motion right here.

With excessive unemployment charges, inflation, ongoing insecurity in numerous components of the nation, and the COVID-19 pandemic on its subject checklist, the very last thing Nigeria wants is a medical doctors’ strike. 

However that’s precisely what occurred on Thursday because the Nationwide Affiliation of Resident Medical doctors (NARD) started an indefinite strike to protest poor working situations and pay. 

Resident medical doctors in Nigeria are medical college graduates coaching and dealing as specialists, and make up nearly half of all working medical doctors within the nation. That is the third time the medical doctors have gone on strike previously 12 months. 

This additionally comes because the nation rolls out vaccines, acquired by way of the COVAX Facility — led by the World Well being Organisation (WHO), the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Improvements (CEPI), and Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance — to frontline well being employees and the aged, earlier than the remainder of the inhabitants.

Why are Nigerian medical doctors on strike? 

There are various causes behind the strike. Nigeria’s well being sector is severely underfunded which implies there isn’t sufficient cash to keep up public well being infrastructure or enhance well being employee welfare. 

This has led to medical doctors not solely being paid poorly however hundreds of medical doctors are additionally being owed as a lot as six months’ pay. In the meantime, regardless of being frontline employees within the struggle in opposition to COVID-19, the Nigerian authorities has solely provided N5,000 (~$13) as hazard allowance to the medical doctors. 

Medical doctors are additionally protesting lack of life insurance coverage protection and demanding that the federal government critiques the legislation regulating Postgraduate Medical Coaching (PMT) in Nigeria, which was established in 1979 and has by no means been reviewed, in accordance with NARD. 

However the greatest cause behind these frequent medical doctors’ strikes, arguably, is the truth that the Nigerian authorities has continuously didn’t honour earlier agreements it has made with NARD previously to resolve these points. 

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“I’m conscious that out-of-pocket cost for well being constitutes over 70% of complete well being expenditure,” mentioned President Muhammadu Buhari on the opening of a brand new well being care facility in 2017. “My presence right here immediately demonstrates our administration’s dedication to place [the] well being of Nigerians as a prime precedence.”

Three info it is best to find out about well being care in Nigeria

  • Nigeria has solely 3.eight medical doctors per 10,000 individuals — or 0.38 medical doctors per 1,000 individuals. In line with the International Targets’ suggestion, a sequence of targets set by the United Nations in 2015, international locations ought to goal for at least 1 physician per 1,000 individuals. In different phrases, Nigeria would want a minimum of 200,000 medical doctors to sufficiently cater for its 200 million individuals.
  • Well being care in Nigeria is severely underfunded — Nigerian governments have constantly allotted beneath 10% of their budgets to well being care regardless of a 2001 declaration by African heads of state — referred to as the Abuja Declaration — to allocate a minimum of 15% of their nationwide budgets to well being care.
  • Of the 42,000 registered medical doctors within the nation, 16,000 are resident medical doctors (who’re presently on strike).

Who’s most affected by these strikes and why?

Tens of millions of Nigerians might be affected by this strike because the disruption will have an effect on many well being care companies throughout the nation. Routine immunisation and malaria programmes have already been affected by the redirection of sources to tackling the coronavirus pandemic. 

Folks in distant and rural areas — 48% of the Nigerian inhabitants — who have already got restricted entry to any well being care companies may even be considerably affected by this strike and others prefer it. 

What influence is it having on Nigerians? 

All around the nation, hundreds of thousands of Nigerians already shouldn’t have entry to potential lifesaving well being companies and hundreds of medical doctors throughout the nation shouldn’t have the sources wanted to operate at their greatest capability. 

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This strike plunges an already struggling public well being care system within the nation into additional crises and worsens the standard of life for Nigerians everywhere in the nation. 

Folks residing with disabilities and HIV, orphans, homeless Nigerians, and different at-risk communities will probably bear a lot of the influence of the physician’s strike. 

“We’re not insensitive; we hope that the federal government and people answerable for the dialogue with NARD will take it significantly, with a view to settling the problems at stake. To our sufferers, we’re very sorry that you must endure this epileptic irregular well being care service supply; we’ve taken an oath to handle you,” mentioned Dr. Enema Amodu, Chairman of the Abuja chapter of the Nationwide Medical Affiliation (NMA).

He added: “But when a health care provider isn’t in a sound way of thinking and isn’t proud of what she or he is getting from the job, the physician will not be in the fitting way of thinking to discharge his or her responsibility proper. And it will invariably have an effect on you; by the point we get positioned correctly, remuneration and different welfare issues and services that we have to serve you, we will serve you higher with productive outcomes,”

How does this strike relate to the mission to finish excessive poverty?

Good well being and well-being and entry to high quality well being care are vital pillars of the United Nations’ International Targets, which align with International Citizen’s mission to finish excessive poverty on the planet. 

Because the nation with the very best poverty price on the planet, in addition to probably the most populous nation in Africa, ending excessive poverty in Nigeria is essential to this international mission. Strikes like these create many socio-economic ripple results that push extra individuals into poverty. 

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What motion can we take?

Lots of the issues going through the Nigerian well being care system could be linked to a historic lack of funding which persists immediately — nonetheless solely 3.7% of Nigeria’s 2021 funds is allotted for well being care, regardless of the COVID-19 pandemic. 

The nation’s physician scarcity, poor well being care infrastructure and employee welfare, excessive price of out-of-pocket bills, and its struggles with the coronavirus pandemic, amongst different issues, could be traced again to the dearth of funding for the well being sector.

This is the reason it can be crucial that we name on the Nigerian authorities to make sure well being fairness by growing funding to the nation’s well being care system, which may also help clear up a variety of the problems throughout the house. 

We should additionally name on Nigerian legislative our bodies and medical businesses to overview present processes and insurance policies round well being employee welfare, particularly given the impact of the coronavirus pandemic. 

You’ll be able to take motion to assist strengthen Nigeria’s well being care techniques and scale back the influence of COVID-19 on the nation’s most weak right here

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