By Sola Ogundipe & Edoamaowo Udeme
LAGOS— Barely a week after the National Association of Resident Doctors, NARD, suspended a 10-day strike, public hospitals nationwide are facing imminent shutdown as all the major unions of health workers under the umbrella of the Joint Health Sector Unions, JOHESU, yesterday, embarked on indefinite strike.
JOHESU and National Association of Allied Health Professionals, NUAHP, had threatened to shut down operations in public hospitals due to the prolonged delay by the Federal Government in meeting their demands dating back to 2012.
Comprising unions of nurses, laboratory scientists, physiotherapists, among others, that make up about 95 per cent of health workers and care providers in the health sector, JOHESU had earlier issued a seven-day ultimatum and declared a nationwide industrial action that it tagged Operation Alligator Bite.
Among the demands are revamp of infrastructure in the tertiary health institutions; report of the inter-ministerial sub-committee on critical matters in the health sector and professional autonomy.
Others include non-payment of backlog of arrears, residency training; appointments of consultants and payment of specialist allowance; and implementation of the National Health Act, among others.
Prior to the strike declaration, JOHESU and the Assembly of Healthcare Professionals Associations, AHPA, had urged the Senate President, Dr Bukola Saraki, and Speaker of the House of representatives, Yakubu Dogara, to wade into the lingering crisis.
22,000 nurses, midwives down tools
Following expiration of the ultimatum, yesterday, about 22,000 registered nurses and midwives in the public service proceeded on indefinite strike.
Announcing the strike in a statement, President of National Association of Nigerian Nurses and Midwives, NANNM, Abdrafiu Adeniyi, directed all nurses and midwives to proceed on indefinite strike from midnight yesterday, saying the decision was in agreement with JOHESU’s position.
Adeniyi who regretted lack of equipment and medical consumables in all the health facilities, said the development had affected the delivery of quality healthcare. He called for amendment of the existing anti-quackery law to checkmate the proliferation of quacks in the health sector and particularly in the nursing profession.