…Port Harcourt doctors lament increasing cases of COVID-19 in Rivers
Resident Doctors at the University of Port Harcourt Teaching Hospital, UPTH on Monday backed out of the nationwide strike embarked upon by the National Association of Resident Doctors, NARD.
NARD declared a strike on Sunday mentioning shortages of Personal Protective Equipment, PPE, and poor remuneration for members as reasons for the strike.
However, Dr. Samuel Ameh, the chairman of ARD in the University of Port Harcourt Teaching Hospital told newsmen that the branch would not join the strike.
According to him, the increasing cases of the COVID-19 in Rivers State is the reason why the association with over 500 doctors, resolved against joining the industrial action called by its national body.
“The ARD after due consultation with our various stakeholders have decided that we will not join the nationwide strike action, at least for now.
“We took this decision with the understanding that the leadership of NARD are currently negotiating with the Federal Government to actualise some of the demands that were made by the association.
“Also, we took the decision based on the peculiarity of the situation in University of Port Harcourt Teaching Hospital and the country at large, regarding the COVID-19 pandemic,” he said
Ameh reiterated that all health workers, as first responders, were needed at this time to help reduce the rising cases of the global coronavirus pandemic in the country.
“However, the demands made by the NARD are not out of place, but we feel that it would not be in the best interest of the general population to embark on strike now.
“When health workers demands for basic things, such as hazard allowance and insurance policy for health workers, it should be taken seriously.
“In as much as we decided against the strike, we also realise that both Federal and State governments must play their own role by giving health workers a fair deal,” he said.
Ameh said that many of his members had contracted the virus while some have lost their lives attending to COVID-19 patients.
He said the association has over 500 doctors actively working round the clock in the hospital to attend to health issues of the people.
Meanwhile, the Chief Medical Director (CMD) in UPTH, Prof. Henry Ugboma, said more than 15 doctors and nurses have contracted Coronavirus while treating patients in the hospital.
He lamented that the hospital had examined and admitted several cases of COVID-19, including three children as well as losing three patients.
“To this end, we are currently expanding our isolation centre with the addition of 20 bed spaces as well as increasing our testing capabilities.
“However, UPTH still have shortages of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE), consumables and materials to perform the testing,” he said.
Ugboma extolled the decision of UPTH resident doctors for their refusal to join the strike.