The Nigerian Medical Association on Thursday urged security agencies to investigate the recent alleged attacks on its members by members of the Joint Health Sector Unions in some hospitals within the Abuja Federal Capital Territory.During one of the attacks, a Consultant Paediatrician with the Gwarinpa General Hospital, Dr. Eucharia Anunobi, was said have suffered respiratory distress following the invasion of the hospital on January 21 with teargas canisters.
One of the masterminds of the attack was said to have been arrested by security agents while the case had been reported to the police. The association therefore raised the alarm that if the attacks were not stopped, it could blossom into a “full scale insurgency in the health sector.” Chairman of NMA in the FCT, Dr. Fatima Mairami; and Secretary, Dr. Chukwudi Okebaram, at a press briefing in Abuja asked security agencies in the country not to allow the attacks on doctors to go without being investigated. The briefing was attended by the Medical Director of Gwarinpa General Hospital, Dr. Tony Momoh.
The NMA said, “While many JOHESU members have been sneaking themselves, their family members and cronies to access healthcare services in the same hospitals in which they are on strike and doctors have been magnanimous in rendering care to all and sundry, JOHESU members are repaying this noble gesture by violently assaulting doctors at their duty posts. “We insist that investigation should immediately begin with a view to identifying all the culprits and appropriate sanctions meted out to them to serve as a deterrence to others that are planning to unleash further terror on doctors.”
The attackers were said to have broken down the entrance to the main block and the laboratory and shot canisters of teargas within the premises of the hospital, “causing severe respiratory distress to staff and patients, including premature babies.” The JOHESU members were also said to have on January 22 gone to the National Hospital, Abuja and drove out all the personnel working in various units of the hospital and locked up some departments.
The Medical Director of the National Hospital, Dr. Tony Momoh, confirmed to journalists that JOHESU “tried to disrupt the services rendered even by those that are not on strike.” “But we have ensured that adequate security is provided to enable doctors and other staff on duty render an uninterrupted clinical services,” he added. When contacted, President of the National Union of Allied Health Professionals and Vice President of JOHESU, Mr. Felix Faniran, told our correspondent that the matter was under investigation.