Nigerian Doctors Start Strike Amid Rising Coronavirus Cases
(Bloomberg) -- Nigerian doctors began an indefinite strike to protest the non-payment of salaries and demand increased hazard allowances as coronavirus cases surge in Africa’s most-populous nation.
The National Association of Resident Doctors, which represents more than 90% of physicians at the nation’s teaching hospitals, said its members are owed as much as 19 months’ salary by state governments. Some public-teaching hospitals have failed to pay Covid-19 allowances or to increase a 5,000-naira ($12) per month hazard stipend, the body said in a July 31 statement.
The work stoppage comes after coronavirus infections in Nigeria climbed to the highest level since March in July, raising fears of a third wave in the country. Nigeria has more than 7,000 active Covid-19 cases, and 2,149 people have died from the disease.
A lack of incentives is leading many doctors to practice outside Nigeria, leading to an “acute manpower shortage” in public teaching hospitals, the body said. There are currently 8,529 medical doctors of Nigerian origin in Britain, according to data on the U.K. General Medical Council website, a 35% increase from two years ago.
About 19 members of the doctors’ association have died from Covid-19 and their families haven’t received any benefits from the Nigerian government, according to Jerry Isogun, the general secretary of the association.
“People are leaving every day, not just doctors, all health workers, because incentives are better out there,” Isogun said by phone.
Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari is currently traveling in the U.K., where he plans to have a medical check-up.
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