Nigerian doctors to strike over pay amid COVID-19 pandemic

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Doctors in state-run hospitals in Nigeria will go on strike next week to demand a pay rise, better welfare and adequate facilities, union leaders have said.

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The strike by the National Association of Resident Doctors (NARD), which represents some 40 percent of doctors, is the latest in a string of stoppages by medics to hit Africa's most populous nation as it struggles to curb the spread of the coronavirus.

“NEC (national executive council) resolved to proceed on an indefinite nationwide strike action from Monday,” said NARD president Aliyu Sokomba in a statement late Friday.

The action would not be called off until the government provides “life insurance and death in service benefits for all health workers” as well as paying outstanding salaries and allowances.

He said the union wanted pay parity for both doctors in federal and state health institutions.

Strikes by medics have been common in Nigeria where the health sector is underfunded.

The authorities fear any reduction in capacity could severely hamper its ability to tackle the pandemic as the number of cases continues to rise.

Read the latest updates in our dedicated coronavirus section.

In June, NARD staged a week-long strike over welfare and inadequate protective kits but doctors treating virus cases remained on the job.

Nigeria, Africa's most populous nation of 200 million inhabitants, has recorded 54,743 Covid-19 cases and 1,051 deaths.

More than 800 health workers have been infected by the virus, according to the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control.

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