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Doctors, health workers differ over strike


JOHESU postpones action by 21 days
DOCTORS under the aegis of the Nigerian Medical Association (NMA) yesterday distanced themselves from plans by health workers under the umbrella of the Joint Health Sector Union (JOHESU) and Assembly of Health Care Professionals (AHPA) to embark on an indefinite strike, which the latter has shelved by 21 days.

The postponement followed an appeal from the Ministry of Labour and Employment for JOHESU for time to enable government study the antecedents of the issues and enable it constructively address them and possibly meeting the demands.

Officials said the Federal Government had appealed for 30 days while the Union insisted that they would only offer 21 days grace after which it will call members out for industrial action.

Chairman of NMA’s Publicity and Publication Committee, Dr. Obitade Obimakinde, in a statement made available to The Guardian, yesterday, said: “It has come to the notice of the Nigerian Medical Association that some members of the AHW are planning to withdraw their services from the hospitals nationwide.

“This communication is released as a conscious effort to inform the Nigerian people that medical doctors are reporting promptly and available at their duty posts. We are carrying out the responsibilities of saving lives as much as possible within the limits of available facilities and resources provided by the hospitals.”

Meanwhile, pharmacists under the aegis of the Pharmaceutical Society of Nigeria (PSN) have urged the Federal Government to prevent the strike and not allow it to degenerate. PSN is a member of AHPA.

President of PSN, Ahmed I. Yakasai, yesterday, at his inauguration and investiture of 70 new fellows of the Society, at Transcorp Hilton Hotel, Abuja, however, decried the high level of competition, confrontation and distrust in the health sector.

Yakasai said pharmacists would therefore be willing to provide leadership to ensure unity among all the stakeholders in healthcare delivery and promised to encourage patronage of the local industry, as more World Health Organisation (WHO) compliant pharmaceutical companies emerge.

Yakasai told The Guardian, “I hope that the government will not allow this to degenerate into a strike because the vulnerable especially the patients will pay for it. If you have money to fly out, the down trodden, the masses, they cannot afford that. So the government has to do something quickly to prevent that kind of thing from happening.”

JOHESU National Chairman, Biobelemoye Joy Josiah revealed in Abuja, yesterday, that a high-powered delegation from the Federal Government had a lengthy meeting with the union leaders on Wednesday.

“You would recall that the Joint Health Sector Unions (JOHESU) and the Assembly of Healthcare Professional Associations (AHPA) issued a 15-day ultimatum to the Federal Government to address all pending issues affecting its members or face industrial action.