The recent indefinite nationwide strike embarked on in April by the Joint Health Sector Unions (JOHESU) has had its fair share of influence on the nation’s healthcare system. In the course of the unfolding events, it was suggested by some Nigerian Medical Association (NMA) state chapters that JOHESU was engaging in acts of sabotage in their health institutions.
On the other hand, JOHESU members accused the medical doctors of deliberately scuttling the implementation of agreement the federal government had earlier entered with its members, including upward review of CONHESS.
Over the years health watchers have observed the inner wrangling and somewhat mutual distrust going on in the health sector – from federal to the states levels. It has been no love lost between the medical doctors and their non-medical and allied worker counterparts in the system. And for the very first time the Joint Health Sector Unions embarked on a nation-wide strike that was about crippling healthcare delivery in the country save for the needed intervention that came in time.
JOHESU gave the reason for going on a strike as what it termed, “the over-bearing dominance of medical doctors above others in the health sector.” On the other hand, the NMA insisted that, “… most of their (JOHESU) demands are ill-motivated and a direct challenge on the leadership role of doctors in healthcare delivery.”
But now, we see a ray of hope that is likely to put an end to the long years of internal squabbles and cold rivalry in the nation’s health sector. High ranking members of the Nigerian Medical Association (NMA) and the Pharmaceutical Society of Nigeria (PSN) have come to an understanding for the need to discontinue with the discordant tunes that have for long existed amongst medical doctors and other health workers.
It was indeed heartwarming when recently the new President of NMA, Dr. Francis Faduyile paid a courtesy call on the PSN President, Pharm. Ahmed Yakasai in his office in Lagos with other executive members of the NMA. Further to creating a channel for smooth communication and reconciliation, the two leaders promised to prevail on their members to withdraw all impending law suits involving physicians and pharmacists, and any other unionists in the health sector.
It is good omen, and highly exciting seeing Dr. Faduyile, and Pharm. Yakasai finally in a parley, with the aim to settle their differences for good. More so, they have consequently moved to set up committees to sort out the problems accounting for the unhealthy relationship emanating from the unending disharmony existing amongst the two parties – with the fervent hope of settling them.
The recent resolve (in August) by the leadership of NMA and PSN to end the long standing disharmony between the two professional bodies in the health sector signifies a major milestone capable of moving the health sector of the country forward.
We salute the courage, maturity, tenacity of purpose and statesmanlike approach adopted by the two leaders in the engagements thus far aimed at returning harmony to the healthcare team in the country. Both men have by this singular action demonstrated that they are visionary leaders and as such should be commended for the on-going peace process in the health sector.
Frequent strikes resulting from protests over perceived favour done to one group against the other by government has led to several avoidable deaths in public hospitals and even total loss of confidence in the healthcare delivery system by the public.
Healthcare workers by the very nature of their calling, occupy a sensitive position because their job description confers a sacred responsibility upon them – according to the oath they swore to. The job entails that life and death of other members of the public are in their hands. It is a sector that demands genuine emotions tilted more towards humanitarian service for others, and therefore it is not meant for materialistic and egocentric individuals.
The current efforts by the two leaders of MNA and PSN to right the wrongs of the past years in the health workers family in the country should be seen as a national assignment that must be expeditiously prosecuted. It deserves the whole-hearted support of stakeholders in the health sector.