As the ongoing strike by the Joint Health Sector Unions continues, many residents of the Federal Capital Territory are displeased with the Federal Government for ignoring the demands of the striking health workers and paying attention to only the forthcoming general elections.
Investigation shows that since the strike started, many government hospitals in Abuja have been under lock and key. Most of the hospitals stopped admitting patients, while the Accident and Emergency Department remained open to out-patients.
During a visit to the Kubwa General Hospital, which used to be a beehive of activities before the strike, our correspondent observed that the A & E was open for services, but there was not a single worker in the labour, post-natal and ante-natal wards, as well as the maternity theatre, mothers’ room and special care baby unit. However, some residents, such as Mr. Paul Onche, think the ongoing strike has some advantages. One of them is that in the absence of nurses, patients now find it a lot easier to gain access to medical doctors than before. “Nurses are not as relevant as they claim to be. Government should let nurses know that without them, hospitals can still function very well,” Onche said, in an interview with our correspondent. But, a medical laboratory scientist, Kate Utachukwu, disagreed with him.
Making a case for the striking nurses and other personnel, Utachukwu said, “As you can see, everywhere is dry and only two doctors are on duty. The nurses, cleaners, pharmacists and laboratory scientists are not working. It is not in the best interest of this country for one person to be doing all the work. Only two doctors cannot keep a hospital going. “Since nurses are the ones that suffer most in hospitals, they are supposed to be receiving bigger salaries. Nurses should not be receiving chewing gum money, while others are receiving fat salaries. It is not easy to clean up patients and bathe them properly. I have been seeing them because I am a lab scientist. It is not only the doctors that make hospitals function. The government should give unto Caesar what belongs to Caesar and to God what belongs to God by treating everybody equally.”
Utachukwu’s position was corroborated by another female resident, Chidinma Onuoha. “The strike should dominate national discourse instead of the general elections. Life comes first. If the hospitals are not working and there is no life, who will vote in the forthcoming elections? If nurses are not important, can doctors alone deliver a baby? Nurses have a role to play. So, please, let everybody intervene and put pressure on our government to act fast because Nigerians are dying,” Onuoha said.