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Protest As Lagos Doctors' Strike Claim 27 Lives

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LAGOS, Oct 28, (THEWILL) - No fewer than one hundred patients from the Lagos State University Teaching Hospital (LASUTH) today stormed the State Governor’s Office, protesting the pains the on-going strike action by medical and dental officers have cost them. In a reaction to the protests, the state government issued a statement urging medical and dental officers in the state to return to work in the interest of the citizenry as the strike action by the Medical Guild, an association of the state government doctors, enters its eight-week.

THEWILL gathered that patients suffering from sickle cell anemia, Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV) and typhoid fever participated in the protest which called on Lagos State Governor Babatunde Raji Fashola (SAN) to immediately intervene. During the protest, the patients, who were led by Mr. Adeoye Modecai, explained that the strike had claimed the lives of at least 27 patients since the medical and dental officers downed tools about two months ago. The protesting patients carried placards with inscriptions like: “Fashola, answer the doctors for the sake of the patients; “Have mercy on the masses; people are suffering for medical treatment; people are dying; we want doctors to start their work; Fashola; don’t let them spoil your good name; Fashola!; and Children are dying, their patients are also your electorates.”

In his address, Modecai, urged Fashola to sign the agreement he entered with the medical guild to enable them call off the strike.

“We have met with the striking doctors, and they said that the only thing they are asking from Fashola is to sign the agreement and not immediate payment of what is in the agreement,” Modecai said. He said he saw at least 25 dead patients at the emergency ward on Wednesday being carried to the morgue in five ambulances. He added that “just this morning (Thursday), a woman and her baby died for lack of medical attention.” He said the nurses are refusing to attend to patients since there is no doctor to sign their prescriptions.

Also speaking after the protest, one of the protesting patients, Mrs. Yinka Olawale said the patients in LASUTH would relocate to Government House in Ikeja if Governor Fashola does not listen to the doctors by Monday.

Olawale, who is suffering from cancer, said she had paid about N365, 000 for her injections, adding that she has been injected thrice and that in the last 15 days she has not been able to get her two remainder shots because of the strike.

In a statement, Commissioner for Information and Strategy, Comrade Opeyemi Bamidele noted with regret that a lot of citizens were being denied access to medical care as a result of the strike action pointing out that no wage increment would bring back lost lives. Bamidele said government was not opposed to a review of salaries but that such a review must be done through a negotiating process and not predicated on the adoption of the federal government pay structure. He recalled that the state government “has taken a series of actions to resolve the dispute, some of which include meeting with Medical Guild, Medical and Dental Consultants Association of Nigeria and Association of Resident Doctors and setting up of a sub-committee to determine the cost implication of the implementation of the CONMESS salary structure at all levels of healthcare.”