Friday, September 28, 2018

National Minimum Wage: Abuja Hospitals Partially Join Strike
September 28, 2018
Nike Adebowale

Photo: Wuse District Hospital

Some hospitals in the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) did not fully join the ongoing nationwide strike called by the Nigerian Labour Congress (NLC).

The warning strike commenced midnight Wednesday over the federal government’s failure to reconvene the tripartite committee constituted in November last year to recommend a new national minimum wage for workers.

On Wednesday, a last-ditch effort by the government to avert the strike ended in a stalemate.

The Medical and Health Workers of Nigeria (MHWUN) had on Thursday directed all its members across the country to join the strike.

Addressing journalists on Thursday, the President of MHWUN, Biobelemoye Josiah, accused the Minister of Labour and Employment, Chris Ngige, and the Minister of Health, Isaac Adewole, of frustrating any activity targeted at improving the welfare of workers.

He said the union could no longer sit back and watch the federal government continue to take Nigerian workers for a ride.

PREMIUM TIMES on Friday visited some hospitals in Abuja to observe their level of compliance to the strike.

Our correspondent saw that a few out-patients were around, probably because many people anticipated that public hospitals would comply with the strike.

At the Wuse District Hospital, only patients on admission before the commencement of the strike were receiving treatment.

A staff of the hospital, who asked not to be named, said no new patients were attended to on Friday.

He said though the strike has officially begun, doctors on casual duty were on ground to attend to the few in-patients and emergency cases.

The Medical Director of the hospital, Sa’ad Idris, who confirmed that other health workers were on strike, said the hospital was still open with doctors attending to in-patients and emergency cases.

“Once JOHESU, which is a big component of the hospital, are on strike, it’s really difficult for the hospital to cope,” Dr Idris said.

“But fortunately for us, the doctors are not part of JOHESU so they are not on strike.

“This is a bigger strike and it was abrupt. We have some patients that were surgically operated so we cannot discharge them immediately.

“And there are some pediatric cases as well that can’t be discharged. But we earlier discharged some cases that we think they can do well at home.”

Dr Idris said some doctors, including those on residency doing their training programmes, were going to run shifts to make sure medications are administered to patients.

He also said doctors were stationed at the accident and emergency wards to attend to “those coming in as emergencies, like labour, road traffic accidents, and acute pains.”

The case in Kubwa General hospital was, however, different as doctors, cleaners and ad-hoc staff were busy attending to patients.

At the time of visit, all departments at the hospital, including the laboratories, pharmacy, outpatient ward, accident and emergency, maternity ward, medical records, and administration were open and fully operational.

A patient identified as Precious, who was waiting to see a doctor, said she understood the importance of the strike but said health workers joining the strike would be disastrous.

“It will be unfair on Nigerians for health workers to join the ongoing strike,” she said.

“Most people will lose their loved ones if the health system in the country is crippled.

“I pray health workers consider how important our health is, so they will change their intentions to join the strike,” she said.

One of the guards said doctors were finding it difficult attending to patients without the help of nurses,” the guard, who preferred not to be named, said.

“They have been jumping up and down since morning trying to manage patients in the hospital.

“They can only try and attend to the ones they can, where they can’t any longer, they will call it a day,” he said.

As at the time of the visit, the medical director was not available for comments.

At the Abuja National Hospital, skeletal services were going on.

It was observed that the impact of the industrial action on health care services across the FCT was yet to be felt as workers in most of the hospitals joined the strike on Friday.

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