NMA directs doctors to stay on duty, as health workers join strike in Lagos

By The Citizen

As health workers in public hospitals in Lagos joined the nationwide strike on Thursday, the Nigeria Medical Association (NMA) has directed all doctors to render uninterrupted services, especially for emergency cases.

The NMA national president, Dr Osahon Enabulele, said in a statement that plans were being made by the striking workers to prevent doctors from providing healthcare services in the hospitals.

According to him, we have nothing against the right of people to determine how best to actualise their demands.

'We shall, however, not tolerate any attempt to obstruct medical and dental practitioners in the course of rendering their official duties,' he said.

Enabulele urged the chief medical directors of the affected hospitals to provide adequate security and access to hospital materials, equipment and other healthcare facilities.

The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that skeletal services were being rendered in the hospitals when its correspondents visited in Lagos, as health workers joined their counterparts in the nationwide strike.

The hospitals were the Lagos University Teaching Hospital (LUTH), Idi-Araba, the Federal Medical Centre (FMC), Ebute Meta and the Federal Neuro-Psychiatric Hospital, Yaba.

At LUTH, an official, who sought anonymity, told NAN that health workers in the hospital joined the strike on Thursday, after receiving a directive from the national body.

He said that doctors were only rendering skeletal services to the patients at the emergency unit of the hospital.

Also, activities were partially paralysed at the Federal Medical Centre (FMC), Ebute Meta and the Federal Neuropsychiatry Hospital, Yaba, due to the health workers' strike.

A visit to the Federal Medical Centre showed that the gates were under lock and key as the security guards refused to open to any visitor, including the doctors.

Many patients were turned back, while the nursing mothers on admission at the maternity wards were being discharged and referred to other hospitals.

But at the Federal Neuro-Psychiatric Hospital, Yaba, skeletal services were being offered, as some patients were being attended to.

Mr Uzondu Eke, the Chairman, Nigerian Union of Allied Health Professionals, told NAN that the hospital still offered skeletal services.

'We do not want to paralyse activities and close down totally,' he said.

Mr Femi Omoba, the Chairman, Medical and Health Workers Union of Nigeria (MHWUN) in Lagos State, confirmed that health workers in the state had joined the strike.

The state chairman said that the workers were aggrieved because of the delay in the implementation of their demands, which he said, was ratified by a recent ruling of the National Industrial Court.

'Some workers in certain medical fields can attain the position of a Chief Consultant, while others were not allowed to reach such rank.

'We are saying that it is discriminatory to allow only a group of workers to attain a particular rank, while their counterparts in other specialties with years of experience, were not promoted to such level,'' he said.

Omoba also said that the government had yet to settle the issue of workers Consolidated Medical Salary even when an agreement had been signed.

He said that the workers would not go back on the strike if their issues were not addressed.

The Joint Health Workers' Union had issued a 21-day ultimatum over the non-implementation of the agreement it earlier reached with the Federal Government.

The workers were demanding for 'non-skipping of salary grade level CONHESS 10, the passage of the National Health Bill, consultancy and specialist allowances and call/shift duty, as well as other professional allowances.

The health workers now on strike include Nurses, Pharmacists, Laboratory Technicians, as well as allied workers in the sector such as the administrative personnel in the hospitals. (NAN)