State Governor, Senator Douye Diri, has appealed to the resident doctors in the state to end their industrial action, saying he is doing everything possible to address their grievances.
Diri made the plea during a meeting between the government and representatives of the National Association of Resident Doctors and the state chapter of the Nigerian Medical Association in Yenagoa.
Represented by his deputy, Lawrence Ewhrudjakpo, he maintained that his administration was already addressing two out of the major demands of the doctors.
He emphasised the need to end the strike, noting that the state was experiencing a major health crisis following the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic, which had ravaged tens of thousands of lives in the country.
Diri stated, “We are aware of your working conditions which have been compounded by the COVID-19 pandemic. Health facilities are overstretched in the country and so this is not the right time to be on strike.
“But let me assure you that two of the three hot issues you have raised in this meeting are already being tackled by the present administration because of the premium we place on our health sector.
“Like you rightly pointed out, these issues have been lingering before the present administration came in. But we are making frantic efforts to address most of the issues.
“For instance, on the issue of employment, we graciously approved the employment of some doctors and nurses in the NDUTH as we came on board.
“So, we appeal to all resident doctors not to go ahead with your plannee strikek. There is a spike in the cases of COVID-19 and the state government is doing all it can to contain the spread of the dreaded virus.”
According to him, it is incumbent on doctors and other medical personnel to uphold their Hypocratic Oath to save lives.
Diri expressed his administration’s gratitude to the sacrifices and invaluable contributions being made by doctors and other health practitioners, particularly in the handling of the COVID-19 infection and other epidemics in the past.
The governor, therefore, assured them that everything would be done within available resources to tackle the challenges facing them.
He said the present administration placed high premium on workers’ welfare and wellbeing, which it had demonstrated in the prompt payment of workers’ salaries, as well as pensioners’ gratuities and allowances.
Earlier in their separate remarks, President, NARD, Niger Delta University Teaching Hospital, Okolobiri, Dr Oru Inetsol and his predecessor, Dr Tuko Evans, identified the disparity in earnings between doctors working in Federal and state-owned health institutions due to improper placement of salary scale.
Other pressing needs, according to them, include enhanced hazard allowances for medical personnel, acute shortage of manpower and upgrading of the health facilities, particularly at the NDUTH.
Also, Chairman of the state NMA, Dr. Peter Alabrah, urged the state government to domesticate and ensure the implementation of the Residency Training Act, which he noted was critical in grooming healthcare professionals.