Health workers vow to ground public hospitals nationwide from Wednesday
Peeved by allegedly unmet demands from Federal Government, unions of health workers in Nigeria, under the umbrella of Joint Health Sectors Unions, JOHESU, and Assembly of Health Care Professionals, AHPA, have threatened to proceed on strike from Wednesday this week.
A copy of the associations’ warning note, addressed to the Secretary to the Federal Government, The Head of Civil Service of the Federation and copied some of the security agencies was signed by JOHESU’s Chairman, Biobelemoye Josiah, and was made available to NHO at the weekend.
In the letter, JOHESU and AHPA said their decision was taken at a joint meeting they had fortnight ago in Abuja, where the unions said they gave the government a 15-day ultimatum, which expires next Wednesday.
The unions informed that the strike would only be averted if government meets their demands. Nigerian health sector had been characterized by incessant strikes by medical and non-medical workers, with 80 of such recorded within eight months in 2014, according to former Minister of Labour and Productivity, Emeka Wogu.
This is the first time the unions would jointly threaten strike since President Mohammadu Buhari assumed power in May last year. Should the strike holds, government’s campaign against Lassa fever, which has killed about 110 people across the country so far, will be dealt a great blow.
Government has also hinted on the possibility of Zika virus spreading to the nation. It needs the workers to prevent the disease.
The unions alleged that non-medical doctors contribute 95 percent of health care providers in the country, and that its members had long been marginalized in both the administrations of the nation’s health systems and as workers in health facilities.
The groups are calling on the Government to meet its demand which include the implementation of new circular on promotion of its members from CONHESS 14 to 15 as directors “which places premium on the need to sanction defaulting hospital managements”; that the Head of Service of the Federation ensure the expedited issuance of an enabling circular authorizing consultancy cadre for health professionals that have adhered to due process, to be vested with consultancy status; and payment of arrears of specialist allowances to qualified hospitals-based health professionals with effect from January 1, 2010, should be ensured without any delay whatsoever.
Others are immediate and full payment of arrears of the skipping of CONHESS 10 which it said had remained outstanding since the year 2010; demands that the Federal Ministry of Health come up with a circular on residency programmes for all health professionals in Nigeria to ensure professional capacity development in the health sector; sponsoring an amendment bill to correct “contentious provisions in the obnoxious decree 10 of 1985 (CAP U15 463) LFN 2004 which formalizes the marginalization of all health workers by Doctors in the following areas”; immediate release of the circular on extension of retirement age from 60 to 65 years to be backdated to February, 2014 when the issue was presented to the national Council on Establishment; and prescribed that the heads of federal health institutions be designated as Chief Executive Officers, CEOs, against the present Chief Medical Directors.