IT was a pathetic sight yesterday in most Federal Government-owned teaching hospitals and medical centres, as hapless patients, were turned back by striking health workers.
Except medical doctors, who reported for work, all other health workers, including nurses and pharmacists, refused to render any form of service to sick Nigerians. Instead they massed at the main gates of the hospitals, locked them and turned away patients, who thronged the facilities for medical attention.
The strike went on despite frantic efforts by the Federal Government to restore harmony in the sector.
The health workers under the aegis of Assembly of Healthcare Professional Associations and Unions (AHPAU) started the nationwide strike to protest the alleged withdrawal of their teaching allowance and discrepancies in the Consolidated Health Workers Salary Structure (CONHESS).
AHPAU comprises of the National Association of Nigeria Nurses and Midwives (NANNM), the Medical and Health Workers’ Union of Nigeria (MHWUN), Senior Staff Association of Universities, Teaching Hospitals, Research Institutes and Associated Institutions (SSAUTHRIAI), the Nigerian Union of Pharmacists, Medical Technologists and Professions Allied to Medicine (NUPMTPAM); and the Non-Academic Staff Union of Educational and Associated Institutions (NASU).
The situation forced the Health Minister, Prof. Onyebuchi Chukwu to visit federal hospitals in Lagos yesterday to meet with their chief medical directors and the striking workers.
Commenting on the alleged withdrawal of teaching allowance, Chukwu told The Guardian “it has not been removed, it is still there. The circular says it should be paid to only those that are teaching. Some people advised that we seek clarification from the Salary and Wages Commission. They advised that we should hold on but I said pay as we await clarification. Now the Salary and Wages Commission has come out with the interpretation. They have defined the issue.”
On the discrepancies in CONHESS, Chukwu said: “Before I became the Minister of Health, there was a circular on the Extended Union Salary Scale (EUSS). The equivalent is Consolidated Public Service Scheme (COMPSS). It is the only scale that has levels 16 and 17. So, there is no grade level 11. So, grade level 11 does not exist. So what they do is they promoted people from CONHESS 9 to 11.
“Before I became minister, the Head of Service of the Federation reversed the decision that those who were wrongly promoted should come down. When I consulted with the health workers’ unions, they pleaded that we should allow those promoted wrongly to keep it. So, I met with the Salary and Wages Commission. They said those erroneously promoted can keep it but there will be no more skipping from level 9 to 11.”
Chukwu said the “major bone of contention” was that the health workers should be made consultants, just like the medical doctors.
“The major thing is that they should be made consultants. The issue started with the University College Hospital (UCH), Ibadan where the hospital on its own without clearance from the appropriate authorities made nurses consultants. So, we told UCH to go back to status quo. They told their members that the minister is only for doctors,” he said.
Chukwu told The Guardian yesterday that the way out of the crisis is for every Nigerian to join me to appeal to them to come back to work. This does not warrant a strike. I think this is a blackmail to the nation.”
At the Lagos University Teaching Hospital (LUTH), Idi-Araba yesterday, the Out- Patient Department was shut against patients. Patients with emergency cases were left to their fate. Apart from medical doctors who were seen offering skeletal services, nurses, pharmacists, clerks, and medical technologists did not show up for duty.
The situation is not different at the Federal Medical Centre (FMC), Ebutte Metta, the National Orthopaedic Hospital, Igbobi, and Federal Neuropsychiatry Hospital, Yaba.
Activities were also paralysed at the Aminu Kano Teaching Hospital (AKUTH), Kano, the University of Port Harcourt Teaching Hospital (UPTH), University of Nigeria Teaching Hospital (UNTH), Enugu.
According to the Public Relations Officer of AKUTH, Mr. Aminu Abubakar, full-scale services have been paralysed as doctors attended to only emergency cases.
Chairman of MHWUN in LUTH, Mr. Isiaka Busari, and Chairman, NASU branch of the hospital, Babatunde Uranga told The Guardian that the chief medical directors and the minister of health should be blamed for the strike.
Busari said: “We are on strike simply because of some issues. One of them is teaching allowance and the other is skipping of CONHESS 10, which means that those promoted to CONHESS 11 were brought down to CONHESS 10, contrary to our agreement. We have a directive that any branch, where the management did not comply should go on strike immediately. The other issues are internal ones.
“The issue of teaching allowance use to be from CONHESS 7 and above. Now, the minister of health has stopped the payment. There was a circular, which emanated from the National Salary and Wages Commission to all unions to that effect. Let me tell you, this strike is not a local one. It is national. We are appealing to the minister because we believe that he is for the entire health sector and not a category of staff. So, you imagine you can see doctors they are working but all other categories of staff are on strike. The strike is national involving pharmacists, nurses, physiotherapists.”
But the Chief Medical Director of LUTH, Prof. Akin Osibogun, said: “It is unfortunate that some health workers want to be paid for services they do not render. It is like asking for travelling allowance when your job does not demand that you travel.
What we are saying is that do not teach if you are not paid teaching allowance. The teaching allowance is not for all medical doctors. It is only for consultants and those that are asked to teach. The strike is really unnecessary. As you can see the doctors are working.”
A medical consultant, who preferred anonymity said: “I blame the government for this. You started paying all health workers an allowance and stopped suddenly without going back to explain to them the reason for your action. It is unfortunate that people in the health sector no longer have regard for human life. I do not think that they are considering the number of lives that will be lost because of this strike.”
AHPAU had over the weekend in a letter to President Jonathan Goodluck, lamented that the recent meeting called at the instance of the health minister to address issues bordering on the welfare of its members was deadlocked.
South African government bonds fell sharply and the rand reached its weakest in more than four weeks against the dollar on Monday, partly weighed down
Omar Roble has attained Internet stardom with his amazing photos with over 200 thousand followers on Instagram. play Ballet dancers (boredpanda) ALSO READ: Stunning photos of practising dancers on
Adamu revealed this on Monday, August 29, in Abuja, after the presentation of a draft roadmap for the education sector – ‘Education for change: A
Most Watched VideosView all posts
Her therapist had suggested she purchase a 'reborn baby' which resembles a newborn infant to help deal with the loss of losing a child.
A group of secondary school girls lured by a photographer have been caught red-handed while posing n*ked for a photo-shoot to be released on a
Kim Kardashian goes twerking and jet skiing in Mexico with her friends Karrueche and Jasmine. Kim cheers them on and gets them to twerk while
Olympian Ryan Lochte's playmate girlfriend shows off in steamy workout videos on Instagram.
Stylist Mark Heyes gives the Loose Women some advice on how to feel confident on the beach, but looks like Katie already has all the
Most Read NewsView all posts
Nigeria pledges urgent reforms in business environment, aims to be among favourite business destinations by 2019
Nigeria will be one of the most attractive and easiest places of doing business in the world by 2019, President Muhammadu Buhari said on Sunday
– Former president Olusegun Obasanjo says nobody can claim the glory of President Muhammadu Buhari’s victory in last year presidential election – Obasanjo denies making claim that he
Brides are becoming very innovative in their choice of bridal dresses. This bride was the cynosure of all with her choice of wedding dress. Ankara inspired
Sojojin Najeriya sun saki hotunan sojoji wadanda suke samun horo ga aikin da akayi wa lakabi da “Crocodile Smile” (Murmushin kada) a yankin Niger Delta. Horon
Pius Ayinor More revelations are being made as Nigerians try to understand the continual downturn of the country’s sports, especially as it concerns the just concluded
The 33-year-old Bravo is set for a medical this week at the Etihad Stadium where he will team up again with Pep Guardiola, his former
Most Watched Movies
After twenty years of marriage, Nneka and Caleb are still childless, this drives Nneka to meet a priestess as all other means have proved unproductive.