Resident Doctors in the Federal Medical Centre (FMC) Asaba, Delta State, on Thursday, embarked on an indefinite strike following what they described as undue and persistent harassment of their members by security agencies, particularly the police.
The doctors, under the auspices of the Association of Resident Doctors of Nigeria (ARDN) FMC Asaba Chapter, said they embarked on the strike because of their security could no longer be guaranteed.
The President of ARDN, FMC Asaba Chapter, Dr Nwabuno Osifo, while addressing the press at the temporary Press Centre of the Nigeria Union of Journalists (NUJ), Asaba, today said the strike will persist until issues concerning their welfare and safety are adequately addressed.
He said a member was refused passage at Okpanam while on his way to work, even after proper identification.
He stressed that when the information got to them, some of them went to the scene to resolve the matter but in the process were brutalised and tear gas used on them, especially the NMA State Chairman.
The group through its leader demanded that:
Police and other security agencies must allow medical personnel free access to their places of work without molestations henceforth.
That the items such as phones and other personal belongings, which they destroyed in the process of brutalising its members, should be replaced.
That adequate security should be provided for medical personnel in the State capital and beyond and their safety guaranteed.
They bemoaned the paucity of protective kits for health workers as they fight COVID-19, urging the federal and state governments to ensure their protection and safety, especially at this time. They listed life insurance, increment in allowances and other incentives to be provided for them as obtainable for medical personnel in other countries.
Dr Osifo maintained, however, that even though the hypocritical oath makes it impossible for doctors to abandon their duties in a period of an emergency such as this, their lives and safety was equally important.
According to him, “We are not callous, we feel for patients too. But our safety must be guaranteed first. We are humans too.
“Based on this brutality of our members on the part of the Police, we are declaring a total shut down.
“Though the Commissioner of Police, CP Hafiz Inuwa and the Delta State Governor, Senator Ifeanyi Okowa have waded in with a view to having the issues resolved, we will continue this indefinite total shut down of all our services until our demands are met”, Dr Osifo said.
Meanwhile, in a telephone conversation, the Commissioner of Police, CP Hafiz Inuwa confirmed the incident but insisted he had settled the matter with the Resident Doctors in a meeting with them and the NMA Chairman and CMD of FMC.
He wondered while the doctors should go ahead to still insist on shut down of operations after agreeing to the settlement.
CP affirmed that the two male officers and a female inspector involved in the dispute had been arrested and detained.