As many as 16,000 of Nigeria‘s 42,000 doctors have laid down their tools over what they say are unpaid wages as well as poor working conditions that have become particularly necessary due to the strain of the coronavirus pandemic.
The strike began on Monday according to Dr. Aliyu Sokomba, President of the National Association of Resident Doctors. He told Reuters, that it will be “an indefinite strike until issues are resolved.”
Even amid fears of the coronavirus escalating in Nigeria’s big cities, Dr. Sokomba said all of the resident doctors at COVID-19 treatment centers are also on strike.
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This is the second time in just six months that resident doctors have called a strike. In March, right after the country had confirmed its third case of the coronavirus, the doctors in public health facilities suspended service to patients over two months of unpaid salaries.
But in June, the doctors returned to their posts after lawmakers pleaded with them. Dr. Sokomba at the time said the decision to return was “to give the Federal and State Governments time to fulfill the outstanding demands”.
Nigeria’s resident doctors constitute the bulk of doctors in the country and are essential to the administration of healthcare in Africa‘s most populous country.
The country has recorded more than 55,600 cases of the coronavirus since March, with some 43,231 recovering as of September 8. A little more than a thousand have died from the virus in Nigeria.
Meanwhile, the federal government in Abuja has reopened the country’s international airports which were shut down to non-essential travel in March.
The airports in Lagos and Abuja are each expected to receive four flights daily, a scheme that started on August 29.