News / Africa

Nigeria Doctors’ Strike Threatens HIV/AIDS Care

Heather Murdock

Nearly a month into a nationwide doctor's strike, HIV/AIDS patients in some parts of northern Nigeria say health care is rapidly declining, and they have become largely dependent upon foreign aid organizations.  Doctors say the strike is the only way they know to rescue Nigeria’s flailing healthcare system, but nurses accuse strikers of abandoning public care in favor of more lucrative private practices. 
 
The Nigerian Medical Association said about 30,000 members have been on strike since the beginning of July, breaking the strike only to provide emergency care for victims of frequent insurgent attacks.
 
But HIV patients say they need life-saving care just as much as victims of terrorism.  
 
Benjamin Daniel leads a network of people living with HIV or AIDS in the northern city of Kaduna.  He said some HIV/AIDS patients have already been turned away from emergency care and as the strike drags on, more people are getting sick.
 
“This doctors’ strike actually affected lives of people living with HIV and AIDS in Kaduna State and if the government doesn’t do anything about it, definitely, I’m telling you, we don’t know the fate of our people,” said Daniel.

In Kaduna Wednesday, doctors broke their strike to treat injured victims of a double bombing that killed 44 people.  When those patients were stable, they left.
 
Nigeria’s official HIV infection rate is more than four percent and some doctors say that rate is grossly underestimated.
 
But HIV/AIDS drugs are still available, said the executive secretary of Kaduna State AIDS Control Agency, Halliru Musa Abubakar, because they don’t need doctors to distribute medicine.
 
“We are trying as much as possible to see that the strike doesn’t effect negatively the patient access to the drugs.  So, so far we have not had any problem in the state,” he noted.

While strikes are common tools for negotiation in Nigeria, this is the first time the Nigerian Medical Association has called a nationwide strike, union officials say.  The strike will continue, they add, until the government provides more resources to hospitals.
 
Union members say without these resources the Nigerian hospital system will collapse in a matter of years.
 
The National Association of Nigeria Nurses and Midwives has called the strike “selfish,” saying doctors are trying divert patients into their own expensive private clinics.
 
Andy Bako is a local coordinator of the Association of Vulnerable Children in Nigeria.  He blames the government for the strike, saying its refusal to negotiate with doctors puts everyone at risk.
 
“For children that fall sick from time to time certainly they don’t access treatment.  Because they go to the conventional hospitals to receive treatment.  There’s no doctors.  It’s really affecting them,” said Bako.

Bako said HIV/AIDS patients still have a modicum of care because foreign aid organizations are still operating.  However, he said, dependency on groups that could potentially leave Nigeria because of the growing Boko Haram insurgency is as dangerous as it is frightening.

Ibrahima Yakubu contributed to this report from Kaduna.

You May Like

Ebola Death Toll Nears 5,000 as Virus Advances

West Africa bears heaviest burden; Mali toddler’s death raises new fears More

Jordan’s Battle With Islamic State Militants Carries Domestic Risks

Despite Western concerns that IS militants are preparing a Jordanian offensive, analysts call the kingdom's solid intel a strong deterrent More

Asian-Americans Assume Office in Record Numbers

Steadily deepening engagement in local politics pays off for politicians like Chinese-American Judy Chu More

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
Comments
     
by: Nats Odaudu from: Abuja
August 01, 2014 11:43 AM
Doctor’s strike: Nigerians give cautious endorsement to privatization of public health institutions http://ht.ly/zQ0ik


by: Stephen from: Okeho
July 25, 2014 11:46 PM
Government should pls. act quickly in order to avert daily loss of inoccent lifes, because where ever two elephants fights the grass will suffern

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Talks to Resume on Winter Gas for Ukrainei
X
Al Pessin
October 25, 2014 4:21 PM
Ukrainian and Russian officials will meet again next week in an effort to settle their dispute over natural gas supplies that threatens to leave Ukraine short of heating fuel for the coming winter. VOA’s Al Pessin reports from London the dispute is complex, and has both economic and geopolitical dimensions.
Video

Video Talks to Resume on Winter Gas for Ukraine

Ukrainian and Russian officials will meet again next week in an effort to settle their dispute over natural gas supplies that threatens to leave Ukraine short of heating fuel for the coming winter. VOA’s Al Pessin reports from London the dispute is complex, and has both economic and geopolitical dimensions.
Video

Video Smugglers Offer Cheap Passage From Turkey to Syria

Smugglers in Turkey offer a relatively cheap passage across the border into Syria. Ankara has stepped up efforts to stem the flow of foreign fighters who want to join Islamic State militants fighting for control of the Syrian border city of Kobani. But porous borders and border guards who can be bribed make illegal border crossings quite easy. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video Comanche Chief Quanah Parker’s Century-Old House Falling Apart

One of the most fascinating people in U.S. history was Quanah Parker, the last chief of the American Indian tribe, the Comanche. He was the son of a Comanche warrior and a white woman who had been captured by the Indians. Parker was a fierce warrior until 1875 when he led his people to Fort Sill, Oklahoma, and took on a new, peaceful life. As VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Cache, Oklahoma, Quanah’s image remains strong among his people, but part of his heritage is in danger of disappearing.
Video

Video China Political Meeting Seeks to Improve Rule of Law

China’s communist leaders will host a top level political meeting this week, called the Fourth Plenum, and for the first time in the party’s history, rule of law will be a key item on the agenda. Analysts and Chinese media reports say the meetings could see the approval of long-awaited measures aimed at giving courts more independence and include steps to enhance an already aggressive and high-reaching anti-corruption drive. VOA’s Bill Ide has more from Beijing.
Video

Video After Decades of Pressure, Luxembourg Drops Bank Secrecy Rules

European Union finance ministers have reached a breakthrough agreement that will make it more difficult for tax cheats to hide their money. The new legislation, which had been blocked for years by countries with a reputation as tax havens, was approved last week after Luxembourg and Austria agreed to lift their vetoes. But as Mil Arcega reports, it doesn’t mean tax cheats have run out of places to keep their money hidden.
Video

Video Kobani Refugees Welcome, Turkey Criticizes, US Airdrop

Residents of Kobani in northern Syria have welcomed the airdrop of weapons, ammunition and medicine to Kurdish militia who are resisting the seizure of their city by Islamic State militants. The Turkish government, however, has criticized the operation. VOA’s Scott Bobb reports from southeastern Turkey, across the border from Kobani.
Video

Video US ‘Death Cafes’ Put Focus on the Finale

In contemporary America, death usually is a topic to be avoided. But the growing “death café” movement encourages people to discuss their fears and desires about their final moments. VOA’s Jerome Socolovsky reports.
Video

Video Ebola Orphanage Opens in Sierra Leone

Sierra Leone's first Ebola orphanage has opened in the Kailahun district. Hundreds of children orphaned since the beginning of the Ebola outbreak face stigma and rejection with nobody to care for them. Adam Bailes reports for VOA about a new interim care center that's aimed at helping the growing number of children affected by Ebola.

All About America

AppleAndroid