President, Association of Resident Doctors, National Hospital, Abuja, Dr. Akanimo Obong, has said that Nigeria does not have enough isolation centres to cater for emergencies and is yet to learn from the COVID-19 pandemic.
Obong said this on Sunrise Daily, a Channels TV programme, while speaking on the current nationwide strike by the National Association of Resident Doctors of Nigeria (NARD).
Speaking on what the strike means for the medical sector in the wake of another COVID-19 variant, he said: “Sadly, it is really impacting us as Nigerians. But what have we put in place? Government has to play its own part. What has government done since the last outbreak? What has happened to our isolation centres, our healthcare system? Have we improved? It’s not only about manpower because you can’t take a soldier to the battlefield without equipment.
“Nigeria is not prepared. We don’t have enough isolation centres all over Nigeria. If there is an outbreak now, we don’t even have enough spaces in the Federal Capital Territory to cater for it. We don’t have equipment. We don’t have enough ventilators. Have we made funds available to improve the healthcare system, so that in case we have this same problem, we will be better prepared? Sadly, no lesson has been learnt. But that is the truth.”
Speaking on the lead up to the strike, he said: “We had a National Executive Committee (NEC) meeting on January 26 to 30, after which we released the communiqué and we made some demands to the government including getting service benefits, COVID-19 hazard allowance and a lot more. We gave two months to government to discuss with us about these issues. We had another meeting on March 6, 2021 and we sent a letter to the minister on March 7. We gave another one month, to see if things would change.
“On March 27, we had another meeting and on March 28, we decided that we were going on strike after giving about three months of notice. It was only then that serious negotiation started. On March 31, the memorandum of action was signed.”