President Muhammadu Buhari, on Friday, called on striking health workers to return to their duty posts.
He also urged others contemplating strike action to opt for settlement of issues by negotiation, no matter how long it takes.
Buhari made the appeal when he hosted members of the Nigeria Medical Association (NMA) at the State House, Abuja, on Friday.
According to him, the lives of citizens that can be lost or damaged when doctors withdraw services, are precious enough to be worth opting for peaceful resolution of differences.
Buhari said that all outstanding benefits owed to medical doctors would be cleared after verifications.
He noted that embarking on industrial action at a critical health period for the country and citizens was not a good option.
“Let me speak directly to the striking doctors. Embarking on industrial action at this time when Nigerians need you most is not the best action to take, no matter the grievances.
“This Administration has a good track record of paying all debts owed to government workers, pensioners and contractors and we have even revisited debts left by past administrations, once due verification is done. Debts genuinely owed Health workers will be settled.
“I learnt that some of the 12 points demanded in the ongoing strike were already addressed. Though the Review of a new Hazard Allowance has not been fully negotiated because of the sharp and deep division within the ranks of the striking doctors.’’
He further stated that the outstanding issue of an Establishment circular issued by the Head of Service, removing House officers, NYSC Doctors from scheme of service had an addendum circular from National Salaries and Wages Commission to clarify that they would continue to earn the wages attached to them on their present wage structure.
Buhari revealed that budgetary allocations had been increased and a Health Sector Reform Committee, under the Chairmanship of the Vice President, had been inaugurated.
The committee will identify and address weaknesses in the Health System and align it with global best practices that raise public confidence.
Also speaking the President of the NMA, Prof. Innocent Ujah, thanked Buhari for appointing members of the organization into strategic positions in government.
Ujah explained that the association was concerned with the industrial action embarked on by doctors, and had been doing its best to alleviate the suffering of patients across the country, while appealing for an urgent resolution.
Ujah, however, suggested an appropriate funding module for the new institutions and assured Buhari of the continuous support of members of the association to improve health in Nigeria.