By Simon Ebegbulem
BENINâ€”FOLLOWING the strike action embarked upon by health workers in Edo State, there are no longer bed spaces at the Federal Government owned University of Benin Teaching Hospital, UBTH, due to the astronomical increase in the number of patients.
This came as about 10 persons including a nurse, were said to have died in the last three weeks that the workers embarked on the strike action.
Already, there are fears that more patients may die following reports that the state government boycotted the meeting called by the Federal Ministry of Labour and Productivity to broker peace between the striking workers and government.
The state chapter of the Nigeria Labour Congress, NLC, Civil Society groups including the African Network for Environment and Economic Justice, ANEEJ, Gani Fawehinmi Movement for Good Governance, One Love Foundation, Trade Union Congress and the Foundation for Good Governance and Social Change, called on the state government to consider the plight of the people of the state by resuming serious negotiations with the striking health workers.
The workers are demanding that the state government should commence the implementation of the new salary structure for health workers as increased by the Federal Government.
But the workers regretted that the strike action was being prolonged due to the alleged refusal by government to engage in meaningful negotiation with them.
When Vanguard visited the UBTH, patients who were supposed to be admitted were being turned back due to lack of bed spaces as a result of the avalanche of patients that throng the hospital.
It was observed that some patients who needed treatment urgently were forced to sleep at the corridors with their foams and wrappers.
However, in an addressed read by the Executive Director, Foundation for Good Governance and Social Change, Comrade Austin Osakwe, on behalf of the organized Labour and Civil Society Organizations, they lamented thatÂ “Innocent citizens of the state have suffered untold hardship as they are unable to access medical care in public hospitals in Edo state.
Countless number of pregnant women and other categories of patients have been denied medical attention by the striking doctors and other health workers.”
â€œDear Comrade Governor, your administration has performed commendably in several fronts.
However, after an objective study of the pros and cons of the current strike action, considering the loss of lives arising from the strike action, all of which deal further debilitating blows to Edo peopleâ€™s life expectancy, we will be doing you a disservice if we do not advise that you personally undertake urgent reconciliation efforts to end the strike from which your electorates are now suffering multi faceted torments from the hospitals abandoned by doctors and other category of health workersâ€Â it stated.