UNCERTAINTY prevailed in many federal and state health institutions across the country, yesterday, as Joint Health Workers’ Union of Nigeria, JOHESU, made good its threat to embark on indefinite strike following expiration of 30-day ultimatum served the federal government. While normal services held in some hospitals, skeletal services were in place in others.
At the some health institutions Vanguard visited early yesterday, sources said the strike was gradually gathering momentum and was expected to be fully compliant from today, even as patients expressed fears about their fate if the strike becomes prolonged.
At the Lagos University Teaching Hospital, LUTH, doctors and health workers were seen attending to patients in the Accident and Emergency, Male and Female Surgical, departments such as Obstetrics and Gynaecology, Surgery, Paediatrics, Medical Out- Patients Clinics and Labour, among others.
AtLagos State University Teaching Hospital, LASUTH, normal services were observed but patients on admission who spoke expressed fear of eviction as the strike prolonged. At National Orthopaedic Hospital, Igbobi, patients were being attended to even though some health workers were seen discussing the strike. Normal services were on at Federal Medical Centre, FMC, Ebute-Meta and Federal Neuro-Psychiatric Hospital, Yaba.
At the Nnamdi Azikiwe University Teaching Hospital, NAUTH, Nnewi, Anambra State, the Chief Medical Director, Prof. Anthony Igwegbe appealed to the striking workers to render skeletal services to save lives of patients. The appeal came as over 1,800 members of JOHESU and Assembly of Health Care Professionals, joined the ongoing nationwide strike.
The workers led by Comrades Ikenna Anahalu and Charles Nwoye as Chairman and Secretary of NAUTH branch of the union respectively, insisted that they would not go against the directives of the national body because it will amount to sabotage. The visibly worried Igwegbe told the striking workers that their skeletal services would ameliorate the plight of numerous patients already on admission and those being brought in on a daily basis, appealing to them to show human face to strike by considering the patients.
“I am pleading with them to maintain emergency services so that we do not lose lives. Health workers are under an obligation to save lives and that should be done for the sake of humanity.
We will watch and see how we are going to manage the situation.”
Skeletal services are also being rendered at the University of Uyo Teaching Hospital. Disclosing this yesterday, The Acting Chief Medical Director, Dr Isaac Udoh said: “It is true there is a strike embarked upon by JOHESU and it affects the UUTH.
For the duration of the strike, there will be skeletal services, not full services. We have had serials of meetings with all the different units in the hospital, the heads of departments of those units and all the doctors.
The meetings were aimed at drawing up strategies to ensure that we continue to render some services to patients and the public. Meanwhile the strike has started taking toll as some relatives of admitted patients were making arrangements to evacuate them to private hospitals as the departments where the striking workers were in charge have already been deserted.
The health workers are asking for upward adjustment of Consolidated Health Salary Structure, CONHESS, arrears of skipping of CONHESS 10, employment of additional health professionals, implementation of court judgements and upward review of retirement age from 60 to 65.