16 May 2018

Nigeria: Govt Warns Health Workers Against Strike, Harassment of Doctors

Photo: Premium Times
A protest by Nigerian health workers.

Abuja — The federal government on Tuesday warned health workers across the country under the auspices of the Joint Health Sector Union (JOHESU) to desist from taking laws into their hands or face deep consequences.

The warning came following reports of tussle between health workers and medical doctors in public health facilities.

In a statement signed by Assistant Director, Federal Ministry of Health, Oshundun Olajide, the government said: "The attention of the Minister of Health, Professor Isaac Adewole has been drawn to a press briefing addressed by the President of National Association of Resident Doctors (NARD), Dr. Ugochukwu Chinaka, in which members of JOHESU are accused of harassing and molesting members of NARD and other medical officers at their respective duty posts.

"The minister was also informed that, JOHESU members were accused of locking- up government health facilities to prevent access to those who are not on strike.

"In view of the above, the minister of health stated that: in as much as members of JOHESU have the right to embark on strike, they do not have the constitutional right to harass other health workers including members of JOHESU who choosed to work and JOHESU members do not have right to lock-up government facilities."

He added: "The federal government would not accept nor condone any act of irresponsibility and disobedience to constituted authorities, adding that all locked health facilities should be opened immediately to enable the facilities provide required services while negotiation continues.

"The minister further re-iterates that all heads of medical institutions should as a matter of urgency provide adequate security for the working members of staff and any person found disturbing the peace in any health facility should be made to face the law."

But speaking to THISDAY, JOHESU President, Biobelemoye Josiah, denied that health workers were harrassing medical doctors on duty across health facilities.

He informed THISDAY that "my members cannot do that, they are only trying to monitor the strike. Doctors are not part of our union, so we cannot stop them from doing their work. They are only trying to cover up their weaknesses.

"Now, we are on strike, the strike has been effective, and they have now seen that the relevance of other health workers is coming up. We have the right to strike, we have the right to protest."

Josiah further accused the minister, of lying against the health workers by insisting that JOHESU members were asking for equal pay with medical doctors.

He explained that there were no plans to call off the nationwide strike, adding that, "it is implementation that we asked for and rather than the minister sitting down to do what he ought to do, he is going on air misleading the people."

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