Health workers’ strike: As crisis looms•••

In Nigeria, several challenges have been reported within the health sector, and with health workers announcing indefinite strike there are fears that activities in hospitals will paralyse
The Joint Health Sector Unions, JOHESU, has announced an indefinite strike that, it says, will paralyse activities in all health institutions across the country.
“All federal government health institutions in Nigeria including federal medical centres, specialists’ hospitals, orthopedic hospitals, psychiatric hospitals among others will be the first to shut down. If the government allows the strike to continue after two weeks, all the states and local government health institutions will now join,” the National Vice Chairman of JOHESU, Ogbonna Chimela, told PREMIUM TIMES on Monday.
The members of JOHESU are hospital workers, including nurses and pharmacists, but excluding medical doctors and dentists.
Mr Chimela said the strike will commence from midnight on Tuesday.

Nationwide strike last September
JOHESU embarked on a nationwide strike last September to protest among other issues, salary adjustments, promotion arrears, and improved work environment for its members.
PREMIUM TIMES reported how the strike caused many hospitals to discharge sick patients, worsening the health situation of many.
On the 9th day of the strike, JOHESU struck a deal with government.
According to the union, six months after the deal was struck, the government is yet to meet any of its demands.
Last month, the union further gave the government a 30 days ultimatum.
“Before now we gave the government 21 working days as an ultimatum. Last month, we also threatened to go on strike after 30 working days which will expire tomorrow (Tuesday) and government have not really done anything tangible.
“They only invited us on the 5th of April told us that our issues are being looked into as usual without any concrete effort on how they are planning to meet our demand. So our National Executive Council (NEC) met in Abuja and appraised the situation and we resolved to continue with the strike, no going back”, the union leader said.

Resolved to continue strike
He said the agreement the union had with the government on September 30, 2017 was that their demands would be met in five weeks.
“That five weeks has metamorphosed to six months and still counting,” the official said.
He also spoke on the potential impact of the strike on patients.
“We know this strike will affect the masses and we are compassionate about the people; that was why we gave enough time for the government to do the needful. But the only thing government seems to respect is strike.
“The labor law gives us that opportunity that if our employer is not showing interest in our matter, we can withdraw our services through strike and we had followed all the due processes before arriving to this decision.”
When contacted, the health minister, Isaac Adewole, said the government is working to avert the strike.

Abort the strike
“We are reaching out to abort the strike. Almost all demands have been met. Government is looking into remaining issues to address them comprehensively,” he said.
It is no longer news that every year, the Nigerian health sector undergoes an annual ritual simply referred to as strike action, in which case, medical doctors or health workers down tools . Obviously, there is not a healthcare system in the world today which is not in some form of crisis or challenges, but there is no doubt that the crisis in the Nigerian health sector is peculiar, with state and local governments rearing their heads too often and this cavalier attitude of government towards the healthcare sector has made it to fall short, so much so that government has developed a care free attitude about the sector
The Nigerian health system is relatively weak, and there is yet a coordinated response across the country. A number of health workforce crises have been reported in recent times due to several months’ salaries owed, poor welfare, lack of appropriate health facilities and emerging factions among health workers. Poor administration and response across different levels of government have played contributory roles to further internal crises among health workers, with different factions engaged in protracted supremacy challenge. These crises have consequently prevented optimal healthcare delivery to the Nigerian population.
An encompassing stakeholders’ forum in the Nigerian health sector remain essential. The national health system needs a solid administrative policy foundation that allows coordination of priorities and partnerships in the health workforce and among various stakeholders.
A health expert had proposed the principle of clinical governance as solution to the perennial crisis within the nation’s health sector
The health sector has been faced with perennial strikes which have been described in some quarters as unreasonable demands.
Therefore, there is urgent need to reset the health and care services so they are fit for the 21st century. The authorities must recognise the challenges that many Nigerian healthcare workers face, trying to deliver care in a context where many of the basic functions of society are broken or non-existent; and the responsibility of the employer to the worker.

Source: Premium Times

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