The Nigerian Medical Association (NMA), Cross River State chapter has called off its indefinite strike, which began on March 12 to join in the fight to curtail the deadly coronavirus pandemic.

The association yesterday announced the suspension of the strike after an emergency meeting in Calabar, the state capital, with the pledged to join other professional associations in the fight to contain the COVID-19 pandemic.

The members of the association were said to have embarked on the strike following the kidnap of the wife of one of their colleague, Mrs. Christiana Ekanem.

The branch Chairman of NMA, Dr. Agam Ayuk and Secretary, Dr. Ezoke Epoke, in a statement said: “Following Mrs. Ekanem eventual safe release by her abductors on March 21, the indefinite withdrawal of medical services in both private and public hospitals across the state is hereby suspended, while medical and dental practitioners in Cross River State are directed to resume duties immediately.

“The association remains grateful to everyone, who supported the family and the association in ensuring her safe release. The poor security situation in Cross River State remains a daily reality as citizens continue to live in fear. We, therefore, reiterate our call on the state government to show more political will and urgently put measures in place to secure lives and property in Cross River State as its primary constitutional responsibility.”

NMA expressed optimism that this would be the last time the association would have to take the difficult decision of withdrawing medical services in the event of kidnapping of its members and also expressed hope that their collective resolve would not be put to test again.
The association added: “The COVID-19 pandemic is a reality with increasing number of confirmed cases, which stands at 35 in Nigeria as reported by the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) and Federal Ministry of Health as at the time of this press release.

“We, therefore, call on the state government to enforce the ban on large gatherings and review to a more stringent limited number as the risk increases.”

NMA called on the citizens to take seriously the recommended guidelines on social distancing, hand hygiene and respiratory hygiene, and pledged to contribute and work with other professional associations to ensure that necessary facilities were available for healthcare providers to prevent coronavirus.