CEM REPORT, HEALTH | Resident Doctors in the country have said that their demand for a review of their salaries by 200 per cent is within the capacity of the Federal Government.
Doctors under the aegis of the Nigerian Association of Resident Doctors (NARD) have said the demanded increase will enable the nation’s health practitioners to meet up with the current inflation in the country.
Speaking on Channels Television’s Sunrise Daily, NARD National President, Emeka Orji said the review of salaries of resident doctors should have taken place in 2014 with rising inflation and attendant economic shocks.
He stated that the Consolidated Medical Salary Structure (CONMESS) was not included in the last minimum wage increase and that the pay rise for medical professionals was long overdue.
He added that the doctors were not interested in the figures and are willing to accept an offer that is enough to meet their needs.
“When people hear that we are demanding a 200% upward review, it may sound outrageous but we didn’t just come up with that figure. We believe that any increment should be based on the inflation from 2009 till now.
“I’ll give an instance, the exchange rate then was N152/$1. We know what it is today. The fuel price then was N65/litre. We know the amount today and there is even an imminent increment.
“When the minimum wage was N18,000, the equivalence in dollars was 91. Now it is N30,000. This thing is not about increment but can you increase this in a way that the take-home of Nigerian doctors and indeed other health professionals will be good enough to make them stay in their country,
Orji noted that the discouraging salary structure of medical practitioners in the country has led to many of his colleagues seeking better remuneration outside the country.
Meanwhile, the federal government has described the demand of the doctors as ridiculous, offering a 25 per cent increment which the NARD president said was insufficient to cater for the needs of doctors in the country.
Furthermore, the NARD president lamented that the government had not implemented the Abuja Declaration since 2001 to allocate a minimum of 15% of its annual budget to health.
“We know the country can afford it. All that is needed is to increase budgetary allocation. The percentage of the budget allocated to health for this year is 5.7. You cannot be able to meet up with that kind of allocation. They have not started obeying the Abuja Declaration since 2001. In 2001, Nigeria entered into an agreement that it will be allocating a minimum of 15% to health but has not done so.”
He added; “We are not even asking for what is paid outside the country, we are just saying pay us something that matches the economic status of the country and standard of living. It’s only when you do so that people will decide to stay in the country.”
They decried the disposition of the government on not reaching out to the association for talks despite its two-week ultimatum but have been issuing threats.
Recall that on April 29, 2023, NARD issued a two-week ultimatum to the Federal Government to commence the implementation of all pending agreements or the doctors will embark on a nationwide strike
The NARD president further demanded the immediate withdrawal of the bill seeking to compel medical and dental graduates to render five-year compulsory services in Nigeria before being granted full licence to practice.