1. The Nigerian medical students association is an umbrella body of over 75,000 medical students in Nigeria and Diaspora. Being one of the oldest student association in Nigeria, we have watched with keen interest the unfortunate events in the Nation’s health care in the last 45 days and as younger colleagues in the profession, we are worried about the future of our health care system.

2. The National Association of Resident Doctors has in the last 12 months
entered several MOUs with the Federal Government which they have consistently failed to honor. The failure to honor some of these agreements with failure to pay house officers after the centralization of their postings led to the first indefinite strike which started 1st April, 2021. The strike lasted for 10 days and it was suspended after several senior government officials beckoned on NARD and assured them their demands would be met in the shortest possible time.

3. While NARD waited for implementation of the last MOU they signed in
April, we yet again were shocked by the release of a mischievous circular withdrawing House Officers from the scheme of service, an action we believe was carried out in error and if not corrected would affect our members graduating into the medical profession. Again, NARD which has consistently acted as the defender of the profession took up this issue with the Federal Government and insisted this circular be withdrawn.

4. We have carefully examined the demands of NARD and it is important to
state categorically that all the demands articulated in the communique released after their NEC meeting in Umuahia are very legitimate, selfless and transcends the current crop of residents. Top on their list of demands was the withdrawal of the circular removing house officers from the scheme of service, a demand that seeks to secure and protect the future of medical students in Nigeria. The implementation of the Medical Residency Training Fund is yet another struggle for younger colleagues as the current crop of residents might not fully benefit from this fund before exiting the residency program. Other demands include the upward review of the Hazard allowance, payment of outstanding salaries of house officers and residents, migration to the IPPIS and payment of death in service insurance to families of members who died during the Covid -19 pandemic.

5. Nigerian medical students have been most affected since the onset of the current strike, which started on the 2nd of August 2021. It is no news that resident doctors have over the years been more involved in the clinical training of medical students in most teaching hospitals, their absence in the last 45 days have in no small way affected the learning of our members but looking at the reasons for the ongoing strike the delay is totally worth it. There is no need leaving medical school to join the profession without addressing some of these problems.

6. Having had extensive deliberations with other leaders of our dear association, we have decided in all SOLIDARITY to stand with NARD in the ongoing strike, and we want to convey the gratitude of all our members to the leadership of NARD for fighting for our future and better working conditions.

7. At this point, we want to call on the federal government and all relevant stakeholders in the health sector to do the needful to put an end to the ongoing industrial action as the absence of resident doctors has drastically affected medical education across board. We are not oblivious of the current challenges facing us as a Nation but we can’t afford to keep over 50 percent of our work force at home while we keep recording high morbidity and mortality rates across the country.

8. At this point I must commend the NARD President Dr. Uyilawa Okhuaihesuyi, you have shown leadership and courage in the last 45 days, you have exhibited an uncommon resilience and you remain a source of inspiration to many medical student leaders across the country. Thank you for standing up to the occasion to secure the future of medical practice in Nigeria.

9. Permit me to also pass my sincere appreciation to our mother association NMA, for her efforts in the last 45 days in resolving the ongoing strike and to MDCAN for standing with NARD in such a period. You have shown that an injury to one is an injury to all.

10. Lastly, I would want to call on the general public to be patient with the medical doctors as the current strike is in good fate to improve the quality of health care in Nigeria, if doctors are not well taken care of, there is no way they would take care of the general public. All hands must be on deck to press on the government to meet the demands of the striking doctors.

Umar Danbuba Mohammed,
President, Nigerian Medical Students’ Association (NiMSA)