LUTH, FMC chiefs urge JOHESU to call off strike, want health sector treated as essential services

MORE leading stakeholders in the health sector have added their voice to appeal to members of Joint Health Sector Union (JOHESU) to call off their three-month old industrial action.

The latest are the acting Chief Medical Director, Lagos University Teaching Hospital (LUTH), Prof. Chris Bode and Medical Director of the Federal Medical Centre (FMC) Umuahia Abia State, Dr. Chuku Abali.

    LUTH acting CMD, Prof. Bode at an emergency press conference made passionate plea to members of Joint Health Sector Union (JOHESU) to call off their strike for the sake of the suffering patients while Dr. Chuku Abali has opined and pleaded that it has to be called off or even suspended.

   Bode however, disclosed that even though the strike is ongoing, the hospital is still operating skeletal services in the outpatient clinics, accidents and emergency, Intensive Care Unit (ICU), Engineering Services, Pharmacy Department, Guinness Eye Centre Anatomic and Molecular Pathology, Microbiology, National Health Insurance Scheme (NHIS) staff, Radiology among others, with the help of few JOHESU members defying the action and doctors on duty.

    Stating that the issues which the union is agitating for its members are germane, Bode however maintained that the Federal Government in its wisdom had set up a high-level committee headed by Alhaji Yayale Ahmed to consider the various positions proposed by the different unions in the health sector to proffer lasting solution; a task which he said has been concluded and the White Paper on the report underway. He then called on the union to exercise patience and wait for the report, stating that a number of their demands have been factored into the 2015 budget.

   Bode revealed that the government has shown goodwill to the health sector stating that it has paid the salaries of the members to date.

   He however frowned at the situation in which some JOHESU members who are unmoved by the plight of the suffering masses harass and intimidate other workers who in their humane character decided to offer their services warning and reminding them of the rules of engagement.

   “All LUTH members are to be reminded that going on strike has some rules of engagement. A striking worker should stay at home, cannot travel, no work, no pay. JOHESU members are enjoined to refrain from any acts that may be inimical to the services rendered by workers not on strike. Nobody should discourage or prevent patients from obtaining care from the skeletal services that is offered,” Bode said.

   Abali, who spoke during an interaction with journalists in his office yesterday recalled that the Federal Government team led by Alhaji Yayale Ahmed was taking a holistic look at the problems in the health sector with a view to finding a lasting solution.

    He lamented, “This sad strike is painful and suffers the poor most. It has visited misery, anguish and loss of life to many homes especially those unable to afford the financial burden imposed by private medical consultation especially during the strike period.”

    He added that no matter the legitimate issues involved in the demands of the striking workers, dialogue would eventually be applied for mutually beneficially better package to be agreed upon without conflict involving loss of lives.

   According to the FMC Chief Executive Officer, President Goodluck Jonathan has shown commitment to resolving the disharmony in the health sector through the Presidential Committee of Experts on Inter Personal Relationship in the Health Sector headed by Alhaji Yayale Ahmed pointing out that a White Paper committee has been set up to come up with a document that would provide permanent cure to the disharmony in the sector hence he pleaded with JOHESU to show deeper understanding of the efforts of government and resume work.

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