In a crippling blow to public healthcare services across Nigeria, the ongoing five-day warning strike led by the National Association of Resident Doctors (NARD) entered its second day today.
Frustration mounted as patients were left without proper medical care, particularly in public hospitals located in Nasarawa State and Ahmadu Bello University Teaching Hospital (ABUTH), Kaduna, where doctors abandoned their duties.
The dire situation extended beyond these areas, affecting public hospitals throughout the country, from the eastern to the western regions and up to the northern regions.
This mass withdrawal of services forced patients to flock to private hospitals, albeit at a significantly higher cost.
In a desperate bid to ensure the well-being of their loved ones, relatives and friends of patients currently admitted in public hospitals were seen transferring them to private healthcare facilities within their respective states.
The resident doctors initiated the warning strike last Wednesday in response to the federal government’s failure to address their demands.
The issues prompting the strike included poor infrastructure, a shortage of healthcare personnel, non-payment of the medical residency training fund, the lack of salary increments through the Consolidated Medical Salary Structure, and the failure of state governments to pay doctors’ salary arrears.
A visit to the Dalhatu Araf Specialist Hospital, owned by the Nasarawa State government, revealed a complete absence of resident doctors, particularly those on call.
Key departments of the hospital, such as the outpatient, casualty, and maternity units, were locked, leaving patients without any medical attention.
Dr. Yakubu Adeleke Ademola, the Chairman of NARD in the state, along with other officials, toured the hospital to ensure that resident doctors adhered to the strike directive.
Dr. Ademola stated that compliance with the strike was the only option left for them.
Baba Hassan Audu, an 80-year-old patient seeking treatment for a toothache, expressed his dismay at the situation.
He had arrived at the hospital in the morning for his scheduled appointment but was informed that the doctors had gone on strike.
He lamented his inability to afford treatment at a private hospital.
Mrs. Halima Tanko, another patient affected by the strike, voiced her concern for the lives of her newborn twin babies.
She called for an immediate end to the strike, fearing for the well-being of her children.
As the strike continued, patients across the country faced the distressing reality of limited access to essential healthcare services.
The future remains uncertain until a resolution can be reached between the National Association of Resident Doctors and the government to address the pressing issues in the healthcare sector.