Nigeria News
Health Workers Strike Again

JUST a couple of months after the Nigerian Medical Association, NMA, arm of the public sector health workers ended its protracted strike, the National Union of Allied Health Professionals, NUAHP, and the Joint Health Sector Unions, JOHESU, again, withdrew their services. You have a right to wonder how often they are at work in a year. The fresh strike followed even after the Federal Government approved their demand to be allowed to become consultants, just as their peers, the medical doctors.

Felix Faniran, President of NUAHP, said other demands including salary increment and upward adjustment of retiring age for his members were not addressed. Patients in public hospitals are left to feel the pinch of the incessant downing of tools by a sector that has become notorious for abusing strikes as if it is at war with members of the public, especially the poor who patronise government hospitals.

The latest strike is coming in the last months of the year, when increase in travels exert high demand for emergency medical services. It also coincides with the intensification of the war against insur-gency in the North East, where our gallant soldiers and thousands of internally displaced persons require urgent medical and emergency attention.

It is very unfortunate that health workers, in the unbridled peer rivalry between medical doctors and other professionals in the industry, have abandoned their social responsibility and the core ethics of their professional calling, which place primary emphasis on saving lives and giving succour to the afflicted.

When the Ebola Virus Disease, EVD, challenged the nation, its defeat which received universal acclaim, was without any input from the public sector medical doctors because they were also on strike in their perennial struggling to assert their superiority over health workers who were not doctors.The government does not help matters much. Issues that appear pretty straightforward are allowed to fester for years.

What does it take for government to implement the salary increase which is already being paid to doctors? Why delay it as if baiting non-doctors strike first? What accounts for the delay in implementing the 33-year-old White Paper which recommen-ded that the condition of service in the universities should also apply to the uni-versity teaching hospitals?

The raise in the retirement age from 65 to 70 years, one of the demands of NUAHP and JOHESU, was made only for doc-tors.We again call on governments and all the arms of the health workers union to adopt the best practices in defining rela-tions among peers, such that they would promote stability in the industry. We call for an end to these painful, recurring strikes that deal devastating blows on ordinary Nigerians.


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