Striking health workers paralyse activities in hospitals nationwide

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By Our Reporters

As the three-day nationwide warning strike called by the Joint Health Sector Unions, JOHESU, in league with the Association of Health Professionals ends today, services were paralysed for the second day in most health institutions nationwide.

This was even as the striking members of the Joint Health Sector Unions, JOHESU, meeeting with the Labour Minister, Chief Emeka Wogu and his counterpart in the Ministry of Health, Professor Onyebuchi Chukwu, was inconclusive. It was said that both parties could not agree.

The striking unions had earlier vowed not to attend any conciliation meeting that lacks government representation, insisting that this was the only guarantee that decisions taken would be implemented.

In Lagos, the general atmosphere in most hospitals visited showed that the strike was total, and only medical doctors were around to render services, which was a difficult exercise due to inaccessibility of support services from nurses, pharmacists, physiotherapists, laboratory scientists, etc.

Although the doctors went extra length to care for patients on admission in the wards, intake of new patients remained suspended as they were advised to seek care in private hospitals pending the termination of the strike.

Patients who turned up in the various hospitals were not attended to. At the Lagos University teaching Hospital, LUTH, Idi Araba and Federal Medical Centre, Ebute Metta, virtually all the outpatient clinics were under lock and key. Several patients were hurriedly discharged to cushion the absence of nurses and other health care workers.

A doctor who spoke on condition of anonymity said doctors were not involved in the strike. He said they were on duty and saw some patients with critical health conditions

In Benue State, services were grounded at hospitals within and around Makurdi the state capital. Most of them were deserted except for medical doctors who were seen providing skeletal clinical services to patients with critical health conditions.

At the Makurdi Federal Medical Centre and the Makurdi General Hospital there was total compliance as no nurse was seen on duty, same for other non medical staff who stayed away from work as directed by JOHESU.

When contacted, the Chairman of JOHESU, Federal Medical Centre chapter, Comrade Moses Shausu said there had been full compliance by members of the union.

A visit to Nnamdi Azikiwe University Teaching Hospital,  NAUTH, Nnewi, revealed that the hospital has been reduced to a shadow of itself. Several relatives were seen withdrawing their sick from the hospital.

Branch Chairman, JOHESU, Comrade Gerald Adinma who spoke with newsmen in Nnewi, warned that the ongoing warning strike may transform to an indefinite strike if the Federal Government fails to change its attitude.

He pointed out the rumoured plan to privatize the laboratory, pharmacy and accounts departments in the teaching hospitals would be met with a stiff resistance because it would be an evil wind that would not do the health sector any good.

Adinma said that if the Federal Government thought that it could save cost through privatization. It should start with the medical doctors who goes home with jumbo salaries outside having their private hospitals.

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