ABUJA (Reuters) – Nigerian resident doctors on Thursday suspended a strike to allow the government time to meet its demands over pay and working conditions amid the spread of the coronavirus, the head of the doctors’ union said.
The National Association of Resident Doctors resolved to suspend the strike “to give government time to address our demands,” said Aliyu Sokomba, president of the union, in a WhatsApp message to Reuters.
The strike began on Monday, and included 16,000 resident doctors out of a total of 42,000 doctors in the country, including those who worked in COVID-19 treatment centres, he had said earlier this week.
Nigeria, Africa’s most populous nation, has more than 55,000 confirmed coronavirus infections and more than 1,000 deaths.
Resident doctors are medical school graduates training as specialists. They are pivotal to frontline healthcare in Nigeria as they dominate the emergency wards in its hospitals.
The union last went on strike in June, demanding better benefits and more protective equipment for battling coronavirus. They are still demanding, among other things, life insurance and hazard allowances.
A labour ministry statement earlier this week said the government had spent 20 billion naira ($52.53 million) on hazard allowances for healthcare workers in April, May and June, and had met the bulk of the doctors’ demands.