The Senate on Tuesday appealed to the Nigerian Medical Association (NMA) to call off their week old strike to avoid further loss of lives.
Deputy Senate President, Ike Ekweremadu, made the appeal in Abuja following a point of order by Chairman, Senate Committee on Health, Senator Ifeanyi Okowa (Delta North) on the doctors’ strike which had paralyzed activities in all public hospitals.
Okowa informed the Senate that the National Assembly Committee on Health and the Committee set up by the Federal Government are working to ensure that the doctors return to work without further delay.
He explained that his committee had met with the leadership of the NMA, an action he added, necessitated the setting up of a Presidential Technical Committee headed by the Secretary to the Federal Government, Senator Anyim Pius Anyim.
He said the technical committee which also had members of the NMA as members, held a marathon meeting where the leadership of the striking doctors appealed to their members to offer emergency services in all medical institutions.
He said even though the doctors had since commenced offering emergency services to patients, the body had yet to officially call off the strike.
He assured the Senate that his committee would continue to mediate in the industrial logjam until all the grey areas are resolved and the strike called off.
Okowa said: “The NMA said they would call their members back to offer emergency medical services and since Friday the 4th, they have directed all medical institutions to offer emergency medical services to Nigerians.
“Yesterday (Monday), we were at the emergency delegates’ meeting, the Governor of Delta state who also is a medical doctor, myself and the Chairman of the House Committee on Health, where we addressed the emergency delegates’ meeting on the need to call off the strike.
“We did find that some of the circulars that they demanded had been issued but unfortunately the strike was not called off at the end of the meeting.
“I thought I needed to inform my colleagues that emergency medical services have been restored but I will continue with the negotiation along with membership of the presidential Committee to ensure that in the next few days we are able to get a resolution to the crisis.”
Ekweremadu who presided over plenary insisted that the strike was a direct blow on the patients who cannot afford treatment in private hospitals.
He said, “I would like to appeal to the striking doctors on behalf of the Senate to please consider going back to work because as long as they are on strike, the casualty will usually be the patients who are innocent of whatever agreement they had with government.
“It is important that they realise that their primary responsibility is to save lives. So we hope that you working with the rest of your colleagues and other interested parties that this matter be resolved as soon as possible so that they resume their usual duties and responsibilities to the patients.
“I hope that other doctors who are here (in the Senate) will also support your initiative to ensure that this matter is settled as quickly as possible.