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Chief Medical Directors urge Health Union to suspend strike

The Committee of Chief Medical Directors of Federal Tertiary Hospitals and Medical Centres has appealed to the Joint Health Sector Union, JOHESU, to suspend its nationwide strike action.

Chairman of the Committee, Professor Thomas Agan, spoke on behalf of Chief Medical Directors of Nigerian Government owned tertiary hospitals and medical centres, in Calabar, Cross River State capital, southern Nigeria.

Agan, who is also the Chief Medical Director of the University of Calabar Teaching Hospital, UCTH, described the action as unfortunate.

It is very unfortunate that at a time like this when we need all hands to be on deck to ensure that the health of the common Nigerian is brought to optimal state.

Critical Patients

According to him, the demands of the union though legitimate were impacting negatively on the lives of people, who need serious and urgent medical attention.

Professor Agan explained that the most of the cases were being withdrawn to private clinics and hospitals as a result of the strike.

In UCTH the Accident and Emergency Unit is open; the Children Emergency Unit is also open, even the neo-natal units are open. The Out Patients clinics are running because doctors are working. It is just the major operations that we cannot carry out right now. Lot of patients have requested to go home and you cannot keep the them against their will, the CMD said.

Last Resort

Agan averred that health workers should avoid resorting to strikes to drive home demands rather adopt and explore other options to resolve crisis.

All of us in the health sector swore to protect the lives of our patients. I think strike should be the last thing to be embarked upon.

I understand that the union gave the Nigerian Government an initial 21 days notice followed by another 30 day ultimatum. However, I have heard that the Ministry of Health was making efforts to meet their demands, which bothers on welfare. I believe that this strike should be suspended so that peace will return to the health sector, while the Nigerian Government quickly implements the agreement signed with the union, the C.MD said.

On the No Work, No Pay rule, the Chairman of CMDs and Medical Directors explained that the employer of labour is the government itself.

We have been directed to apply ‘the no work, no pay rule’ and make alternative arrangements. I don’t know where we will get the money to employ.

I tell people, ‘no work, no pay’ should actually be applied by the government itself because salaries are paid from the Ministry of Finance and not the hospital. So, government has the right to suspend payment of all salaries until people return to work, he said.

Passionate Appeal

My final advise and humble appeal is simple. It could be me or any member of JOHESU; it could be their child, relations who may become critically ill and rushed to a tertiary hospital like ours. Any of us can be a victim and die as a result of this strike. So we should take the lives of our patients, which we swore to protect as primary.

The Committee of CMDs feel pained over this lingering matter. But, we will continue to work with the government to ensure that all lingering issues in the health sector are handled. All we need to do is to trust one another, have respect for one another and for human life, he added.

Source: Voice of Nigeria