Last week, in the early hours of Monday, Nigerian health workers withdrew their services to protest lack of life insurance and protective equipment against COVID-19 as well as non-payment of allowances. The Minister of Health, Dr. Osagie Ehanire, in a statement issued in Abuja on Wednesday, asked for the replacement of doctors with members of the National Youth Service Corps (NYSC).
We must remember that the primary duty of doctors and all health workers is to save lives. Embarking on a strike in this time that the country is battling with the COVlD-19 pandemic is ill-timed and ill-advised.
Emergency services should continue to run as before. Routine services should be maintained with Consultants, NYSC Doctors. Locum staffers to be brought in when and where necessary to forestall services disruption when applicable and affordable.
Four days later, the strike was called off by the National Association of Resident Doctors (NARD) to enable the Federal Government to assess its demands.
NEC resolved to suspend the ongoing indefinite nationwide strike action from tomorrow 11th of September 2020 by 8 a.m
However local chapters where the conditions of service have not improved should continue on the industrial action at the respective states until their demands are met to be reviewed in 2 weeks’ time.
On the 10th of September, the Minister of Labour and Employment, Dr. Chris Ngige in a reconciliatory meeting with the Joint Health Sector Unions and Assembly of Health Care Professionals (JOHESU) addressed outstanding issues to avert the strike.
N126 billion has been appropriated in the 2020 COVID-19 Intervention Appropriation Act for infrastructure upgrading and equipment for the Health Sector during the period but lack of effective communication has made it impossible for the Unions (JOHESU) to appreciate the degree of investments made in the Health Sector.
Despite the meeting, the union (JOHESU) resolved to embark on strike from midnight on Sunday, 13th of September.
“The meeting of our expanded NEC was held Saturday 12 September 2020. And at the end of the meeting, which was held both physically and virtually, it was unanimously agreed that since nothing concrete was achieved at the said meeting with the Federal Government, that the strike notice is still germane and alive.
Therefore, the 15-day ultimatum still subsists and with effect from midnight of Sunday, 13th September 2020 our members shall withdraw their services due to Federal Government’s inability to meet their demands”, read the statement.