By Sola Ogundipe, Chioma Obinna, Chinyere Amalu, Gabriel Olawale and Tunde Jejeloye
With another medical doctorsâ€™ strike looming, a sense of unease has enveloped the nationâ€™s already fragile health sector. The indication to this development is coming on the heels ofÂ series of warning strikes witnessed lately at various teaching hospitals, Federal Medical Centres and specialist hospitals across the nation.
Many Nigerians have been caught unawares by the renewed spate of doctorsâ€™ warning strikes and intention to embark on strike over issues related to wages and conditions of service amongst others.
Observers and concerned stakeholders within the public health sectorÂ have asked repeatedly if indeed medical doctors remember their hippocratic oath and are keeping faith with it whenever they decide to down tools.
The reason is for this poser is often not unconnected with the fact that the withdrawal of services by the doctors often leads to the loss of lives of some patients seeking health care services at the public hospitals.
Should doctors embark on strike? Good Health Weekly went to town to feel the pulse of the average man on the street. Excerpts.
Erstwhile Minster of HealthÂ Prof. Adenike Grange notes: â€œI donâ€™t see anything wrong about it. It is a way of expressing dissatisfaction especially in the health system and dissatisfaction about their welfare etc., that is why I said that health should be put in the centre of development.
If this is done many of these strikes are preventable because whatever promises are made need to be fulfilled. If they are not, then of course, government begins to incur the wrath of those people who have fought for their rights and also the rights of patients. They are also fighting also for the right of the patient. Patients themselves should have the best.Â We have good doctors but to retain them here,Â they must be well remunerated. So, if promises have been made,Â I am afraid that we just have to find ways to meet them. Fulfilling promises and trying to see how we can match performance with investment is the way to go.
â€œItâ€™s is not the fault of the doctors that theyâ€™reÂ going on strike. Government should answer them; if not, they should proceed on the strike,â€ says Rukayat, a public officer.
However, Memudu Basirat, aÂ student does not support a doctorsâ€™ strike. â€œI wonâ€™t support the strike because many lives will be at stake; and as doctors, theyâ€™re expected to treat and save lives. But critically speaking, they doctors are fighting for their rights. Maybe they should use another means of registering their agitations.â€
As for Cordelia Ejigu, aÂ pharmacist: â€œThe strike is not necessary but they know why they are going for it, they are fighting for their benefits. They are not happy but they have to do it. I donâ€™t support the strike but remember that these doctors have families and needs. Yes, it will affect the masses, but thatâ€™s the only language the government understands.â€
On his own, Alex, a student notes that â€œGoing on strike is not the best thing the should considering how valuable theyâ€™re to the society. I believe dialogue is the best thing to do to settle the issue. Remember, this is not the first time theyâ€™re going on strike, as such, repeating it wonâ€™t yield any result. Besides, the executive government is yet to put its house in order, which will transcends to every part of our national life.â€
ButÂ according to Motunrayo Fafiyebi, an administrator : â€œ I want the government to prevent the strike because theyâ€™ll be loss of lives. Understandably, lecturers go on strike and this affects lives, but when doctors go on strike, certainly, thereâ€™ll be loss of lives. There should be other ways to deal with the situation-but not strike! Doctors should not go on strike, rather, government should attend to them and save the nation another embarrassment. It is the poor that will suffer it.â€
Minister of State for Health, Dr. Aliyu Idi Hong calls for patience. â€œGovernment is totally committed to the implementation of the agreement reached with the different health professionals on the salary increase.
â€œAll computations have been concluded and sent to the Federal Ministry of Finance which was formed part of 2010 budget forwarded to the National As