Nigeria doctors union suspends strike to combat Ebola

AFP
A medical worker wearing protective clothing works at an Ebola treatment facility in Kailahun, Sierra Leone, on August 15, 2014
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A medical worker wearing protective clothing works at an Ebola treatment facility in Kailahun, Sierra Leone, on August 15, 2014 (AFP Photo/Carl de Souza)

Abuja (AFP) - Striking public sector doctors in Nigeria said on Sunday they would suspend a nearly two-month strike to help combat the Ebola outbreak.

The striking National Medical Association (NMA) union has come under intense pressure to end the work stoppage since the first Ebola case was confirmed in Nigeria on July 25.

NMA chief Kayode Obembe had announced earlier this month that the strike would end but faced a revolt from his deputies in the union and was forced to backtrack.

At an emergency session this weekend, union leaders told their members to resume work on Monday.

"All medical and dental doctors are hereby directed to resume duty at their working posts with effect from 8:00 am (0700 GMT) of Monday 25th August, 2014," a statement said.

It said delegates had "resolved to suspend the strike action in the interest of urgent national emergencies", specifically citing the "threats posed by the outbreak of the Ebola virus."

Nigeria has recorded 15 cases of Ebola, including five deaths, far less than Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone which have each seen hundreds of deaths from the virus.

Nigeria's Ebola cases have been handled so far by private sector medical workers working with experts from the US Centers for Disease Control, the World Health Organization and medical aid groups.

But many say Nigeria's public hospitals also need to be operational in order to guard against disaster in the event of a surge in infections.

The NMA, which launched the strike on July 1 over pay and working conditions, said negotiations with the federal government on their grievances would continue.

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