The ongoing nationwide total and indefinite strike by the National Association of Resident Doctors (NARD) has severely impacted medical services at tertiary health facilities in Nigeria, leaving patients in a desperate situation. A visit to several hospitals revealed minimal attendance, with only a few Consultants and House Officers providing skeletal services for critical cases.
New appointments were not being given, and patients requiring surgeries were turned away. Despite the recent announcement of a 25 percent salary increase by the Federal Government, the striking doctors remain resolute in their demands, insisting they will not return to work until their requests are met.
The situation was consistent across various health institutions, including Lagos University Teaching Hospital (LUTH), National Orthopaedic Hospital Igbobi (NOHIL), Lagos State University Teaching Hospital (LASUTH), and others nationwide.
While some patients praised the Consultants who attended to them during the strike, others expressed frustration over being turned away or left unattended. The cost of transportation to and from the hospitals further exacerbated the situation.
During the visit to LUTH, a few patients were seen waiting, but appointments were not given as doctors were absent. The surgery department only attended to emergency cases.
One patient, Jennifer, expressed concern for the thousands of patients affected by the strike, hoping that the government would respond quickly to address the situation.
A nurse at LUTH confirmed that most patients were discharged, and new admissions were not accepted due to the ongoing strike. She urged patients to seek treatment elsewhere until the doctors’ strike is resolved.
At LASUTH, a man bringing his mother for breast cancer treatment was advised to go to another hospital since new appointments were not available.
The Vice President of LUTH-ARD, Dr. Omogbolahan Adenuga, reiterated that the strike would continue until the government negotiates and meets their demands, which include a review of the Consolidated Medical Salary Structure to improve working conditions and tackle brain drain in the medical profession.
Dr. Emeka Orji, the National President of NARD, stated that the government had not reached out for negotiations. As a result, all Resident Doctors remained at home, and new patients were not being attended to.
The situation remains uncertain, leaving patients with limited access to medical care, and the striking doctors holding firm in their demands for better welfare and working conditions.