Eight days after doctors in the employment of Lagos State began an indefinite strike to protest alleged ill-treatment by their principal, Nigerian Medical Association (NMA), Lagos State Branch, has ordered doctors in federal public hospitals to go on solidarity strike.
However, President Goodluck Jonathan has frowned at the frequent strikes embarked upon by medical doctors in the country, saying they should not go on strike because of the importance attached to their profession.
The NMA order came shortly after members rose from an emergency congress where they agreed to commence an indefinite strike to support their counterpart in the state and protest the discriminatory application of the state’s ‘no work, no pay’ policy to members of the Medical Guild in the period between April/May 2012 and September 2014.”
The strike order which was placed on notice board was signed by the branch chairman and secretary of NMA, Drs. Temitope Ojo and Batunde Saheed, respectively.
However, it was yet to be effective in most of the federal hospitals monitored in Lagos as at Monday afternoon.
“We have only just put our members on notice of the strike and we are ready to monitor compliance in our hospitals as from tonight (Monday),” the NMA secretary told our correspondent on phone.
The notice of strike stated: “The NMA Lagos will commence the indefinite strike from Monday, March 23, with the provision of emergency service following the failure of the Lagos State Government to resolve the demands of the Medical Guild.”
It explained further that the decision to declare an indefinite strike was as a result of the failure of Lagos government to pay withheld salaries to its doctors.
The withheld salaries include three days salaries accrued from April 2012 and May 2012 as well as two months salaries which accrued from August and September 2014, totaling two months and three days.
With this development, the provision of health care services in all federal hospitals including Lagos University Teaching Hospitals (LUTH), Idiaraba, Federal Neuro Psychiatric Hospital, Yaba, the National Orthopedic Hospital, Igbobi (NORI) and the Federal Medical Centre at Ebute-Metta, all in Lagos would henceforth be affected.
At press time, most of the in-patients at the federal hospitals were ignorant of the strike notice while some described it as “irresponsible decision”.
A patient, Toriola Ogun, was shocked to hear from our correspondent that a strike was in the offing and he asked, “Why are LUTH doctors going on strike? That would be irresponsible of them to dump us without prior notice?”
Effort to reach the acting Chief Medical Director, Professor Chris Bode, to know what palliative measures were being planned yielded no result as the management was in a board meeting that continued till press time.
The hospital’s Public Relations Officer, Mrs. Hope Nwawolo, however, denied knowledge of any such notice by doctors in LUTH to commence any strike saying, “as we speak, the hospital is still running and there is no notice that there is a strike in place.”
President Jonathan spoke on Monday in Bauchi while commissioning ultra-modern 400-bed Specialist Hospital constructed by the Bauchi State government.
The President expressed the commitment of the Federal Government to come up with better programmes for medical doctors to enable them earn better pay.
He said: “Our doctors are trained to provide medical services to the people and not to embark on strike; we would come up with better pay as a way of motivating them.”
He disclosed the plan of the Federal Government to set up referral hospitals in all six geo-political zones in the country including Bauchi State, saying these hospitals would help treat special cases.
President Jonathan said with the commitment of Federal Government on primary and tertiary health cares, his administration had successfully eliminated guinea worm in Ebonyi State as well as other states in the federation.
He assured that by the end of this year polio would be eradicated in the country.
The World Health Organisation would declare Nigeria as polio-free by the end of this year.
He said there was no reason why any child born healthy should lack medical care and as a result develop polio.
Jonathan then commended Governor Isa Yuguda for constructing such a standard hospital promising that the Federal Government would set up technical team to manage hospitals with modern facilities.
“With this type of hospitals in Nigeria, there is no need of going abroad for medical treatment because we will be able to treat all kinds of diseases,” he stated.
In his adress Governor Isa Yuguda of Bauchi State disclosed that the new Bauchi Specialist Hospital was constructed at the cost of N2.6b.
He told the president that his administration was committed to promoting health care as part of its effort to supporting the Federal Government Transformation Agenda.