By Chioma Obinna
The striking Lagos medical doctors on Tuesday described the response of the Lagos State Ministry of information to the ongoing 3-days warning strike as an attempt to smear them, claiming that they attempted all within their powers to prevent the strike.
The Lagos State Government through the Commissioner for Information and Strategy, Mr. Gbenga Omotoso had issued a statement Monday claiming that the medical Guild has no reason to go on strike despite a series of engagements with the State Government aimed at resolving some of the grievances raised.
In a press statement jointly signed by the Medical Guild Chairman, Dr. Oluwajimi Sodipo, and Secretary, Dr. Ismail Ajibowo, they argued that the response was only out to create a wrong impression that the strike was being masterminded by a few members of the Medical Guild.
The stated that; “The Medical Guild is a professional body with well-skilled members, an affiliate of the Nigerian Medical Association, NMA with the aim of catering for the welfare of its members and providing world-class medical services to Lagosians, Nigerians, and foreigners. Since its inception in 1926, it has been at the forefront of innovative strides and collaborative efforts with the Government on the issue of health sector development and progress.
“We start by drawing the attention of the government that more than 200 medical doctors who are members of the Guild have been infected with COVID-19, many of whom also infected their families with attendant short and long term complications. This is a testament to our desire to serve our patients and our calling.”
The Medical Guild claimed that they had also been at the forefront of advocating for priority testing for all health care workers and patients on admission in hospitals so as to the upscale provision of safe medical services, suggestions which had been largely jettisoned until the declaration of strike action.
Responding to some of the issues raised about the wages, salaries, and emoluments, they said they are happy the state government has finally agreed that their federal counterparts in the same state earn much more than doctors working with Lagos State.
They added that the situation has been ongoing for years without a definitive action from the government to bridge the gaps.
“Apart from the fact that there are security implications of releasing remuneration of employees publicly, the state government has maintained that they have no agreement with the COVID-19 volunteers at the isolation centre, hence, the government has been paying any amount it deemed fit, usually after agitations.
“The Federal Government, on the other hand, had earlier engaged the various medical/health associations in discussions and came up with a negotiated agreement and we expect the same to be done to our members in Lagos State especially as we are the epicentre of the COVID-19 pandemic in Nigeria. “
Throwing light on the increased hazard allowance in the state, he said the increase which was quoted as being increased by over 400 per cent translates to an increase from N5,000 to N25,000.
Continuing, they said the principal objective of the strike was to get the necessary attention of the state Governor to resolve the challenges in order to continue the peaceful harmonious relationship with the government as well as deliver quality healthcare services to the populace.
Our motto had been to present, engage, negotiate, and then implement which is the only panacea to preventing disruption of services in the health sector.
Appreciating the Governor, Babajide Olusola Sanwo-Olu, they said they would continue discussion and negotiations with the government especially at this time of COVID-19 while urging the relevant ministries and agencies of government to imbibe the spirit of engagement and negotiation so that Lagosians can continue to enjoy uninterrupted healthcare services delivery.