Health Minister Dr. Osagie Ehanire has called on resident physicians to suspend their strike in the interest of patients in need of care at this critical time.
Ehanire made the call at a press conference on Wednesday in Abuja to mark World Health Day, which is celebrated each year on April 7, sponsored by the World Health Organization (WHO) and other organizations.
Ehanire, who delivered his speech via zoom from Edo, said that this period was not a good time for such activities for doctors who started a strike on Thursday.
The agitations of the aggrieved physicians include non-payment of the salaries of three to five months of some house officials and the non-hiring of house officials.
Others are the abolition of fees for doctors-in-training in other hospitals, non-payment of the national minimum wage, and risk allowances.
The minister, however, said that house officials had begun to receive their pending duties.
“We work assiduously to address other issues raised by physicians.
“Aware of the enormous challenges of human resources for health and the hard work to build and expand them, we encourage the establishment of more training institutions for health workers,” he said.
According to him, 2021 is the international year for health and care workers, in recognition of the selfless roles they played and continue to play, to support our healthcare system.
“In appreciation, we prioritize healthcare workers for ongoing vaccination against COVID-19. We remain committed to the well-being of our healthcare workers, ”he said.
In her message, Dr Matshidiso Moeti, WHO Regional Director for Africa, said that the COVID-19 pandemic had shed light on inequalities between countries.
Moeti, represented by the WHO Country Representative in Nigeria, Dr. Walter Kazadi, said African countries had been pushed to the bottom of the line for teams amid shortages of essential supplies to combat COVID-19.
“African countries have been left at the end of the line to access COVID-19 test kits, personal protective equipment and now vaccines.
“Out of 548 million doses of COVID-19 vaccine administered worldwide, only 11 million or two percent have been to Africa, while the continent represents about 17 percent of the world’s population.
“There are also inequalities within countries.
“Discrimination based on gender, place of residence, income, educational level, age, ethnicity and disability intersect to disadvantage vulnerable populations,” he said.
The director said recent data from 17 African countries showed, for example, that a person with a secondary education was three times more likely to have access to contraception than someone who had not attended school.
“Those in the highest economic quintile are five times more likely to deliver their babies in health facilities and vaccinate their babies with the Bacillus Calmette-Guérin (BCG) vaccine compared to those in the lowest quintile.
“To improve this situation, we must act on the social and economic determinants of health, working in all sectors to improve living and working conditions, and access to education, particularly for the most marginalized groups.
“Communities must participate as partners, through their networks and associations, to shape and drive health and development interventions,” he said.
The theme for World Health Day 2021 is: building a fairer and healthier world for all.