LAGOS, Nigeria

An indefinite strike by doctors on Thursday paralyzed medical services at public hospitals in Nigeria, leaving hundreds of patients unattended.

The National Association of Resident Doctors (NARD), an association of Nigerian resident medics, last week gave the federal government an ultimatum to improve the wages and allowances of doctors to avert the indefinite strike.

Uyilawa Okhuaihesuyi, the head of the association, on Wednesday said the medics would go on strike if their demands are not met.

“The National Executive Council (NEC) has unanimously agreed that NARD should proceed on a total and indefinite strike on April 1, 2021,” he announced after a meeting of the association.

He said the doctors’ demands include settlement of salary arrears, review of hazard allowance to 50%, and payment of death-in-service insurance for all health workers who died from COVID-19 while on duty.

Scores of patients said the strike could aggravate their pains and health conditions as medics stopped working on Thursday.

“I was scheduled to see the doctor today at the Lagos University Teaching Hospital (LUTH) after undergoing a series of tests. I am afraid my condition could worsen with the strike,” Bello Adewale, a patient, told Anadolu Agency in Lagos, Nigeria’s commercial capital.

Patients at the University of Maiduguri Teaching Hospital (UMTH) and Federal Medical Center, Gombe in Nigeria’s northeast, said they were not attended by the striking doctors.

Meanwhile, Health Minister Olorunnimbe Mamora told journalists in the capital Abuja the federal government has released about $53 million for death-in-service insurance to health workers.

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