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Strike: Nigerians at the mercy of health workers, doctors by Idowu Olabode : January 03, 2015, 09:40:09 PM
This may sound like an over flogged issue, but it has to be tackled as it concerns almost everyone in this country.

A strike by health workers, including doctors,  always has an impact on the lives of the people because it affects  their health. In fact it is a matter of life and death.

The jobs of doctors and other health workers are thought to be driven by compassion;  that they want to help in providing quality health care for the people thus they are expected to make sacrifices in their job.
However,  that  may just be the people’s imagination or what obtains in days gone by. 

These days they are engrossed in politics and rivalries bordering on who is more important than the other: doctors versus the rest of them.

The grievances are endless such as,why should medical directors in hospitals be doctors only?  Why should consultants be doctors only? Are doctors better than them?  Are they also not as important as the doctors?

The doctors in their defense would say of course they should be the leaders, that in the history of medicine,  doctors  used to dress  wounds and give medicine to patients, which is the work of nurses and pharmacists now.This is apart from the financial aspect of it.

The latest one was when the National Union of  Allied Health Professionals comprising lab technicians, medical health workers, physiotherapists  and so on  went on strike at the end of  October last year. They were followed in November by the Joint Health Sector Union (JOHESU). Nurses and Midwives are part of this group.

Even though when the strike started it affected mainly federal government hospitals, by December 2, states had started joining in.

According to the acting National President of JOHESU, Comrade Felix Faniran, the joint bodies were calling on the Federal Ministry of Health to take urgent steps to meet the demands of the unions, especially the withdrawal of the circular on non-skipping of Consolidated Health Salary Structure, (CONHESS10), the promotion of stagnated members and the abolition of discriminatory practices in the health sector in Nigeria.

Then apparently after failing to reach an agreement with the government, JOHESU said   health workers in hospitals will stop all “skeletal and concessional services”in all healthcare facilities.

Two previous meetings since the strike started in November have brought no meaningful progress, JOHESU Chairman, Ayuba Wabba said.

JOHESU wants government to implement agreements reached since 2009 and several rulings of the National Industrial Court in their favour.

It is instructive to note that  even during the era of the Ebola virus that   was brought into  the country by  the Liberian-American, Patrick  Sawyer in July last year, the doctors were on strike.

The earlier government, the doctors and the health workers stop playing with the people’s health and stop taking people hostage, the better it will be for all of us.People fall sick every day but end up suffering more because of such strikes, besides, it is not everybody that has the money to go to a private hospital.

There are some that prefer the government hospitals no matter the queue.Also some people have outstanding appointments in hospitals that are disrupted because of the strikes. It is quite tedious to go and rebook the appointment.

This is failed system where  government can afford to have health workers go on strike for months, perhaps because the top government officials  don’t patronize the country’s hospitals.

They can go abroad to treat any slight ailment, thus they don’t care what happens to the common man.However, as long as they are at the helm of affairs they would be held responsible.

Another thing is that government should not enter into agreement that it cannot honour, as it is fond of doing because it usually backfires. They just buy time before another round of strike .

On the other hand the health workers and  doctors should have are-think on how to go about having their grievances addressed by the government.Many people die because of their strikes, while many more resort to self-medication or hand over their fate to herbalists, still some fall intothe hands of fraudsters acting as spiritualists.Strike action should never be an option to health workers or doctors.


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