Health workers in Nigeria, under the aegis of their national body, the Joint Health Sector Union (JOHESU), remain adamant about calling off their over six-week-old strike, patients, the as is always the case, have continued to bear the major brunt of the situation.
The union, which comprises nurses, physiotherapists, medical laboratory scientists, pharmacists, occupational therapists, optometrists, dieticians, medical social workers and clinical psychologists, embarked on an indefinite nationwide strike on November 12 over issues related to appointments and relativity in federal health care institutions.
Although, the Lagos State government hospitals did not immediately join the strike, patients from other government owned healthcare centres thronged to LASUTH as another option, but the teaching hospital eventually concurred on December 4 and since then, it has been a tale of sufferings for the populace, especially those who cannot afford the bills charged in private hospitals.
A relative of one patient on admission at LASUTH before the strike commenced, Mr Adealu, told Saturday Tribune that his sister was operated on just before the strike and since the health workers commenced their strike, nobody was available to do the dressing of the point of opening. “She had an appendicitis operation but had not fully healed when the health workers started their strike, the doctors have been checking her but she is not getting all the dressing she needs, so I will be taking her out of here today to a private clinic,” he said.
For those who cannot afford the services of a private hospital, the situation is much tougher. While some have resorted to patronising quacks, road-side patent medicine stores and chemists, and indulging in self medication, others visit spiritual houses and some others prefer to stay at home with hopes that the strike would be called off soon enough.
It is gathered that nurses at LASUTH had been quietly coming to work to perform their duties.
According to the doctor who said this on the condition of anonymity, the nurses had been sneaking to work few days after the teaching hospital officially joined the strike for fear of being dealt the no work no pay policy of the Lagos State government. “Till today, the Lagos State government owes doctors under its employ three months salary and is adamant about not paying because we joined the Nigerian Medical Association strike in July, which lasted for three months.
“We have held several protests and asked elder statesmen in the country to intervene but Governor Fashola has remained adamant. The nurses are scared of suffering the same fate as the doctors, which is why they have been coming to work,” the doctor said. She, however added that no new patients were being admitted, except emergency cases, which after the doctors stabilise, are discharged for further treatment in private clinics. “In-patients, that is those who were on admission before the strike, are still being attended to by the doctors.
“The status quo remains that no new patients are being admitted, except for emergency cases, wherein after being stabilised, such patients would be discharged for further treatments in other hospitals, that is if such patient can afford the expenses of a private clinic,” the source said. Meanwhile, management of the Lagos University Teaching Hospital, in a circular dated November 13, which was addressed to all heads of departments/staff and titled “Industrial Action – Joint Health Sector Unioins (JOHESU) has vowed to continue treatment of all in-patients