Medical doctors in the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) public health sector are believed to be diverting patients to their private clinics for treatment as members of the Joint Health Sector Unions (JOHESU), today, Thursday, joined their counterparts across the nation on a sit-at-home strike.
Information reaching us revealed that mainly pregnant women who are at the verge of going into labour are being hurriedly referred by the doctors to such private clinics where they are being charged between N100,000 and N200,000, especially when it involved Caesarian Section (CS).
Our correspondents, who monitored the situation in the FCT as the other health workers formally joined in the strike today, Thursday, reported that nurses, pharmacists, record keepers, laboratory technicians and even hospital attendants and cleaners joined in the strike, leaving only doctors.
It was gathered that most of the patients on admissions in hospitals across the federal capital city were hurriedly discharged as the doctors who are on duty could not carry out the functions of the other health workers on strike.
The National Vice Chairman of JOHESU, Ogbonna Chimela, told newsmen on Monday that members would embark on indefinite strike, which is expected to paralyse activities in all health institutions across the country.
Ogbonna said: “all federal government health institutions in Nigeria including federal medical centres, specialists’ hospitals, orthopedic hospitals, psychiatric hospitals among others will be the first to shut down.
“If the government allows the strike to continue after two weeks, all the states and local government health institutions will now join,”
The members of JOHESU are hospital workers, including nurses and pharmacists, but excluding medical doctors and dentists.
Ogbonna said that the strike would commence from midnight on Tuesday.
“Before now we gave the government 21 working days as an ultimatum. Last month, we so threatened to go on strike after 30 working days, which expires on Tuesday and government did not really do anything tangible.
“They only invited us on April 5 and told us that our issues are being looked into as usual without any concrete effort on how they are planning to meet our demand.
“So our National Executive Council (NEC) met in Abuja and appraised the situation and we resolved to continue with the strike, no going back,” the union leader said.
JOHESU comprises National Association of Nigerian Nurses and Midwives ( NANNM ), Nigeria Union of Allied Health Professionals ( NUAHP ) Medical and Health Workers’ Union ( MHWUN ).
Others are Senior Staff Association of Universities, Teaching Hospitals, Research Institutes and Associated Institutions ( SSAUTHRIAI ) and Association of Medical Laboratory Scientists of Nigeria.
JOHESU members are demanding for good salary structure, payment of outstanding salary arrears as well as teaching and uniform allowances, among others.
The Federal Government had on Sept.30, 2017 entered an agreement with the unions to implement new salary structure within five weeks, which has yet to be implemented.
JOHESU leader complained: “some other health professionals demanded for the same salary structure and it was approved within 15 days.
“We discovered that the Federal Ministry of Health wanta to implement “No Work, No Pay” in order to threaten our members.
“Every member should free themselves from fear of no work, no pay and be ready to fight for it.
“We are going to all the teaching hospitals and medical centres to inform all our members correctly on why they should fight for their rights,” he said.
JOHESU appealed to members of the public to understand that they care for them, especially people who could not afford the bills of the private hospitals for treatment.
“This is the main reason we demand that Federal Government should improve the hospital by providing more equipment, infrastructure and manpower.
“We always consider our patients before embarking on any strike that is why we gave the Federal Government long time ultimatum to implement our demands. Nobody can fight for us; we can only fight for ourselves by claiming our rights.
“We noticed that the gap between the medical doctors’ salary structure and that of other health professionals is too wide, which we consider is totally unfair to health sector.” [myad]