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Nigerian Doctors Suspend Strike

FILE - In Aug. 4 file photo, Nigerian port health officials wait to screen passengers at the arrivals hall of Murtala Muhammed International Airport in Lagos.

In Nigeria, striking doctors will resume work on Monday following an intervention by Senate President David Mark, according to Dr. Lawan Musa, leading member of the Nigerian Medical Association (NMA). Musa says Mark promised the group that the government was willing to address their concerns.

Officials of the NMA say the two-month old strike was suspended due to the Ebola emergency while negotiations with the government continue.

Musa said over one million Nigerians petitioned executive members of the NMA to rescind their decision and return to work.

“After the intervention of one million Nigerians headed by the Senate president, there was a series of meetings held and the NMA has now ordered the doctors in Nigeria to resume work today, Monday. That is the agreement, while we are hoping that all the promises made by government will be actualized,” said Musa.

He said the NMA appears to have confidence in the ability of Senator Mark, who he added “has a good track record,“ to convince the administration to meet their demands.

“In 2010, the Association of Resident Doctors had an issue and it was an ongoing strike, but with the intervention of the Senate president and the promises to deliver, they suspended their strike. He was able to make the government see and convince them to address the issues, [and] they were addressed. It was because of that understanding, I’m sure, that the [NMA] has [decided] to suspend the [current] strike,” said Musa.

Musa denied media reports that the striking doctors were pressured to resume work.

He also dismissed allegations that the doctors refused to help combat the Ebola virus that has so far killed four people in the country.

Musa said the NMA reacted proactively to save the lives of those infected with the disease despite the ongoing strike action.

“This strike started even before the Ebola [outbreak] and immediately the Nigeria Medical Association ordered all doctors in the states that were affected [to go back to work]; precisely Lagos and Anambr [states] were the first to be given the order that they should attend to issues pertaining to Ebola,” said Musa. “There were a lot of doctors that were part of the control team despite the ongoing strike.”