By Felicia Imohimi
Abuja – The President of the Joint Health Sector Union (JOHESU), Mr Josiah Biobelemoye, said on Monday that the the union would commence an indefinite nationwide strike by midnight on Tuesday.
Biobelemoye said this when he led the union executive on a courtesy visit to the Chief Medical Director of the National Hospital, Abuja, Dr. Jafaru Momoh, in his office.
He alleged that the union members had been treated as slaves by the Minster of Health, Prof. Isaac Adewole.
He said that the minister failed to implement the agreement reached by the union with the Federal Government on Sept. 30, 2017 for upward adjustment of CONHESS.
He said that the implementation of the agreement was supposed to begin five weeks after it was signed “as was done for medical doctors.”
He said that JOHESU accounted for 95 per cent of health sector workers in the country but regretted that the union’s demands were always taken for granted.
“We are committed to ensuring peace in the sector hence for the past three years we resisted strike but we should not be forced to withdraw the peace.
“Help us to tell government. All we are saying is equity, justice and peace.
“We love Nigerians and government should help us love Nigerians the more by doing the needful,” Biobelemoye said.
The Chairman, Board of National Hospital, Abuja, Ms Patricia Etteh, appelaed to union officials to shelve its proposed strike in the interest of the people.
Etteh urged the union to consider the plight of the masses, who always suffered more during such actions in the health sector.
“In the event of strike in health sector, the poor always bear the burden as they cannot afford access to healthcare in private hospitals in Nigeria and abroad.
“But the rich will not mind as a lot of them travel abroad to receive the desired healthcare services.
“There so many ways you can embark on strike without shutting down hospitals because the masses will suffer,” she said.
Etteh decried the poor attention by government to the nation’s health sector and welfare of health workers in the country.
She called for greater attention to the sector and health workers, saying that they deserved prompt and priority attention by government.
She said, “Health sector is one particular area that should receive prompt and adequate response because when the people are healthy, it will reflect on the nation’s economy.
“If healthcare providers are not properly taken care of, they will not be able to give the desired medical attention and care to patients.”
Etteh, who was the former Speaker of House of Representatives, urged the government to look into the requisite entry qualification of health workers in the country.
She said that the measure would help to ensure a more efficient healthcare delivery for patients.
She assured the union that she would channel their grievances to the appropriate authorities.
“I plead with you to give me sometime to dialogue with the concerned ministry with regard to your demand for upward adjustment of CONHESS and other issues.
“I believe before the close of work tomorrow (Tuesday), through the concerted efforts of all and sundry, something positive will come out from my dialogue with the Minister of Health and others.”
Also speaking, the CMD, pleaded with the union not to withdraw emergency services in hospitals in the event of any strike.
He assured the union members that their issues would be resolved in the shortest possible time “through divine interventions”. (NAN)