Again the health sector, on Monday, was thrown into another strike with Joint Health Sector Unions (JOHESU) and Assembly of Healthcare Professional Association (AHPA) declaring an indefinite strike following a 15-day notification to the Federal government on its 6-point demands.
At the University College Hospital (UCH), workers, staff and parents of inductees of the Bachelor of Medical Laboratory Science Graduating Class of 2023 for a few hours couldn’t enter the hospital as the three main gates into the hospital were shut by the striking workers.
The striking workers, who later opened only one gate for use at the hospital after an appeal by different individuals, were seen at about 10 am moving around the different sections of the hospitals with canes in hand to drive its members out to ensure compliance with the strike.
Moving around the outpatient clinics during their afternoon shift hours, nurses and doctors were seen attending to a few patients. Also, patient relatives were seen wheeling patients and running basic errands to take care of their relatives.
Mr Simeon Ibekwe, University College Hospital, Ibadan Chairman of the Medical and Health Workers Union, said the strike was in conformity with directives from JOHESU and decried Federal governments’ unequal treatment of issues affecting medical and health workers that were not doctors.
According to him, JOHESU’s demands include the adjustment of the Consolidated Health Salary Structure (CONHESS), payment of peculiar allowance to health workers under the aegis of JOHESU/AHPA; and immediate and unconditional implementation of the consultant cadre circular of pharmacists.
Others are the payment of all withheld salaries of its members; speedy adjustment of retirement age from 60 to 65 years and exclusion of some health workers in the payment of new hazard allowance and payment of COVID-19 allowance balance.
“The indefinite strike was based on the directives of JOHESU at the national level to press for our demands; the Federal government should not see other workers in the health sector as second-class citizens. Everyone is important; including the cleaners and everyone should be treated as important.”
The Chief Medical Director, UCH, Ibadan, Professor Jesse Otegbayo, in a remark, on what the hospital is doing to meet the needs of patients said the plan of the hospital is to ensure that essential services, including emergency care and accident and emergency units of the hospital are going.
“Our accident and emergency services are open, including the Otunbatunwase Children and the intensive care unit. Of course, because of the strike, some of them are becoming a bit aggressive and shutting gates and shutting down laboratories and using some degree of aggression to drive out some of their members who are willing to work.
“But as it is now, all our doctors, nurses, and pharmacists are on duty, it is only the JOHESU members who are on strike. So we are trying to retain patients who are already on admission, however, some patients themselves are requesting discharge, and we cannot deny them.”
On security, he said the hospital management had increased the number of its outsourced security men to cover essential areas so as to avoid the break-down of law and order in the hospital given that security officials and health attendants are all part of the strike workers.
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