Doctors in public hospitals in Nigeria began Monday a strike to protest against the non-payment of salary arrears and lack of resources in hospitals as the country, faces a third wave of coronavirus.
This strike, the latest in a series of medical staff work stoppage is led by the National Association of Interns (Nard), which represents 40% of doctors in Nigeria.
The union is asking the government to honor its promise to pay compensation to the families of doctors who died while fighting the coronavirus.
The association says Nigerian doctors were ill-equipped and under-funded for the job while the facilities in state-run hospitals “are deplorable”.
Nigeria, a country of 200 million people, had 42,000 registered general practitioners in 2019, according to the Nigerian Medical Association (NMA), or two doctors for about 10,000 people.
At the time of the first cases of coronavirus in the country in March, Dr. Francis Faduyile, president of the NMA, said that between "70 to 80 percent of public health institutions did not have running water or enough clean water to wash their hands."
The authorities fear that a strike could further destabilize the health system, which is already under pressure from the coronavirus pandemic, and at a time when it must vaccinate its population.
Nigeria has officially recorded 174,315 cases of coronavirus and 2,149 deaths. But these figures are underestimated, as the number of tests performed is low.
In July, the Nigerian Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) said it had detected the highly contagious Delta variant of the virus, putting authorities on alert for a third wave of the pandemic.