Members of the Joint Health Sector Unions, on Monday, commenced a nationwide strike called by their national executive and paralysed activities in federal public hospitals across the country.
The strike is over the non-payment of COVID-19 hazard allowance, among other welfare benefits allegedly promised by the Federal Government.
South-West states join
In Ogun State at the Federal Medical Centre, Idi-Aba, Abeokuta, the JOHESU members grounded medical activities.
The union had earlier held a congress on the premises of the FMC, where members decried the infrastructural decay in various government hospitals across the country.
The Chairman of the Senior Staff Association at the FMC, Bashir Ayobamiji-Obabiyi, said, “We went on strike two years ago on this same issue. To our dismay, the Federal Government withheld two months’ salary, April and May, because we went on strike.
“But about two or three times, medical doctors have proceeded on strike and their salaries were paid, which is a high level of injustice in the system.”
At the Olabisi Onabanjo Teaching Hospital, Sagamu, the branch Chairman of JOHESU, Mrs Jayeola Thomas, said members of the union were on duty because the industrial action only affected their counterparts at federal health institutions.
In Lagos, activities were paralysed at the Lagos University Teaching Hospital, Idi-Araba; Federal Medical Centre, Ebute Meta; and the National Orthopaedic Hospital, Igbobi.
Although doctors were seen attending to patients on emergency at the hospitals, JOHESU members shunned work.
At LUTH, the striking workers were holding a meeting when our correspondent visited the hospital and ensured that none of the union members resumed at their duty posts.
At the NOHIL, an official, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said the impact of strike was being felt.
“Although, doctors are not on strike, who will check the files of those who have been given an appointment? The engineering department can decide not to switch on the generators if there is no power supply. We really hope that the strike will be called off soon,” the source said.
At the FMC, only emergency situations were being attended to by the hospital.
A source said a lot of patients were sent back home as there were no workers to check for their files.
Also at the Obafemi Awolowo University Teaching Hospital, Ile-Ife, Osun State, some members of JOHESU resumed at their duty posts early on Monday.
But the OAUTHC JOHESU Chairman, Lateef Adeyeni, said the compliance was around 85 per cent as of 2.30pm.
“The strike is effective now. Presently, we are having about 85 per cent compliance. By tomorrow, the tally will increase,” he said
Health workers at the Federal Teaching Hospital, Ido Ekiti, Ekiti State, joined the JOHESU strike.
JOHESU members at the Ekiti State Government-owned health care facilities were, however, at their desks on Monday.
The state JOHESU Chairman, Oluwafemi Ajoloko, said all health workers in the state were on the same page with the national leadership.
Health facilities paralysed in the East
In Anambra State, activities at the Nnamdi Azikiwe University Teaching Hospital, Nnewi, were paralysed on Monday.
The Chairman of the NAUTH chapter of JOHESU, Mr Ikenna Anahalu, said, “The Federal Government must release funds to pay the arrears of differentials for 2015, 2016 and 2017 promotion allowances.
“Personal Protective Equipment is not adequately provided in NAUTH as well as other COVID-19 palliatives.”
Similarly, health workers in the Federal health institutions in Enugu State joined the nationwide JOHESU strike.
The state chapter Chairman of JOHESU, Benneth Asogwa, said the leadership of the union moved round the federal health facilities in the state to ensure total compliance.
According to him, the University of Nigeria Teaching Hospital, National Orthopaedic Hospital, and Federal Neuropsychiatric Hospital in Enugu recorded total compliance.
In the same vein, the JOHESU members at the Federal Medical Centre, Owerri, Imo State, on Monday, joined the national warning strike.
FMC Makurdi rejects patients
Also in Benue State, JOHESU members at the Federal Medical Centre, Makurdi, partially paralysed activities at the hospital with their decision to join the strike.
The Head of Clinical Service at the hospital, Dr Enye Agada, said the management had decided not to admit any patient until the union calls off the strike.
Agada said, “Admission of patients will be a challenge for now; so, we may not be able to admit any patient in this kind of situation.”
Similarly, health workers at the Federal Medical Centre, Katsina, joined their counterparts across the country.
The Chairman of JOHESU, FMC Katsina, Shamsdeen Lawal, earlier in the day addressed the congress called by the hospital’s health workers where they all agreed to join the strike.
The acting Medical Director for the hospital, Dr Habib Ibrahim, said, “I will implore both the Federal Government and the striking health workers to please consider the plight of poor Nigerians who seek medical attention from our facility.”
Workers at the University of Ilorin Teaching Hospital, who reported for duty early on Monday, held a congress and immediately departed for their homes.
The Chairman of the UITH branch of JOHESU, Olutunde Oluwawumi, said, “We decided to join the strike at the congress. So, all health workers in the hospital have left for their homes.”
However, the Plateau State chapter of the National Association of Nigerian Nurses and Midwives did not join the strike on Monday.
The Chairman of the NANNM, JUTH branch, Mrs Mercy Lenka, said, “Our members are still doing their jobs in the hospital and other health facilities because we have not received any official communication from our national body about the national strike. As soon as we receive that, we will join the strike immediately.”
Activities boom in FCT hospitals
Meanwhile, work continued in many public hospitals in the Federal Capital Territory in Abuja on Monday.
At the Nyanya General Hospital, work was going on in the departments of Accident and Emergency, Gynaecology and Obstetrics, and Pharmacy.
A nurse, Charles Daplang, said the health workers might join the strike next week.
“As you can see, work is going on and the strike did not affect us here, at least for now. But our leaders said they might join after one week,” he said.
The situation was the same at the Kubwa General Hospital. One of our correspondents observed that work was going on as health workers attended to patients.
A similar situation was observed at the Asokoro Hospital, Gwarinpa, Wuse, and National Hospitals.
Telephone calls to the President of JOHESU, Biobelemoye Josiah, for comment rang out.