By Akanimo Sampson
Many more Nigerians across the country are likely to die in the days ahead as health workers begin their indefinite strike this Thursday, September 30.
Joint Health Sector Unions (JOHESU) and the Assembly of Healthcare Professional Associations (AHPA), have directed their members to commence an indefinite strike this Thursday,.
The strike is coming in spite of the fact that in September 2017, Chief Medical Director of University of Calabar Teaching Hospital (UCTH), Thomas Agan, attributed over 90 per cent of deaths recorded in Nigerian hospitals to poor attitude of health workers.
While also attributing incessant strikes in the health sector to disagreements and professional rivalry among the various unions, he decried the frequent crises in the health sector, pointing out that at the end, it is the Nigerian people that are suffering and dying.
According to Agan, some health workers were not taking the lives of patients seriously, in spite of their professional training and work ethics, insisting, “over 90 per cent of deaths in our hospitals are due to our attitude.”
Agan, who doubled as Chairman, Committee of Chief Medical Directors of Federal Tertiary Hospitals in Nigeria, said “until the healthcare givers in our hospitals begin to realise that the health of the patient he/she is handling could be his own, his wife or siblings and all that, things will not go well.
“Until we realise that we would be held accountable to every challenge we create, things will not go down well’’, adding that the health sector was supposed to be a place of succour, not only to the rich, but to ordinary Nigerians.
“It is unfortunate that the health sector has been characterised with strike actions over the years. For me, welfare issues are necessary in life, but incessant welfare requests from the healthcare providers tend to undermine the sector itself’’, he said.
Health workers unions are however, urging the Buhari administration to implement agreements made by the parties.
National Chairman of the unions, Biobelemoye Josiah, in a statement said, “we wish to remind the Federal Government to act before it is too late on our fresh fifteen-day notice as contained in her communique issued on Friday, September 17, 2021 at the end of the last expanded National Executive Council meeting
“It will be recalled that the expanded NEC comprising of the Presidents and General Secretaries of affiliate unions and Professional Associations, NEC members of affiliate unions and JOHESU Chairmen and Secretaries at the State and Branch levels on Friday, September 17, 2021, critically appraised the reports of JOHESU negotiation and conciliation meetings with Federal Government since the declaration of the trade dispute through the earlier fifteen days strike notice issued on 2nd September 2021, which expired on September 18, 2021.
“It is pertinent to draw the attention of the federal government to our fresh fifteen(15) days strike Notice, which is billed to expire in the next few days and for it to act to avoid the shutdown of hospitals and other healthcare facilities.
“We wish also to inform the general public that our NEC noted the appeal from President Muhammadu Buhari on the need to show understanding with his administration and the President’s pledge to pay any debt owed health workers. We would also wish to note some of the resolutions reached at the end of our meeting, to show that we are not strike mongers, but just for the federal government to act according to agreements reached.
“We have asked the Federal Ministry of Health to ensure speedy circularisation of all establishment and welfare matters as agreed during negotiation meetings. We Equally asked the Federal Government to ensure that the new data for the computation of the adjusted Consolidated Health Salary Structure (CONHESS) for JOHESU members be completed and submitted to the ‘High Level Body’ (HLB) of the FG not later than Wednesday, 22nd September, 2021 as agreed.
“We also urged the Federal Government to ensure that the “High Level Body” (HLB) complete and submit the computation of the adjusted CONHESS for inclusion in the 2022 budget on or before the 30th of September, 2021 submission window.
‘’We charged the Federal Government to reciprocate the patriotic humanitarian gesture of JOHESU in the interest of the larger Nigerian masses to expeditiously resolve all the demands within the fifteen days window.
“We unanimously adopted a resolution to step down the first notice of strike action which expired mid-night 17th September 2021 and issued a fresh notice of fifteen (15) days.
“While we push for better welfare and conditions of service for our members, we urge the federal government to reflect the promises of Mr President in the activities relating to our demands to ensure continuous industrial harmony in the health sector.”