Doctors in Nigeria state-runned hospitals have gone on strike over complaints of welfare and inadequate protective equipment. Though they have said medics treating coronavirus patients will keep working.
Nigeria has recorded 17,148 cases and 455 deaths since the first documented case of the coronavirus in February. More than 800 health workers have been infected by the virus, according to the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control.
In a tweet, the National Association of Resident Doctors said: “A decision to commence on a total indefinite strike with exemption only for coronavirus treatment centres has been taken. This is with effect from 12:00 am Monday 15/06/2020.”
The National Association of Resident Doctors represents some 40 percent of Nigeria’s doctors.
The association president Aliyu Sokomba said that doctors treating coronavirus patients were not going on strike. This is because medics did not want to deprive coronavirus patients care.
He warned that they would be forced to join the action if the government refuses to meet its demands within two weeks.
The organisation had threatened the strike over a raft of issues, including the “grossly inadequate” provision of protective equipment. They are also calling for hazard pay for those working on virus-affected patients.
Other demands focused on improving general welfare and protesting against sackings or pay cuts for doctors in two regions.
Strikes by medics are common in Nigeria, where the health sector has been underfunded for years. The authorities fear that any reduction in capacity could severely hamper its ability to tackle the pandemic as the number of cases continues to rise.
The main national doctors union briefly staged a warning strike in commercial hub Lagos over police harassment of its members.