Nigeria: Health Workers Strike - Minister Directs Hospital Heads to Provide Security for Staff

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The federal government has directed all heads of medical institutions to provide adequate security for the working members of staff to prevent harassment and molestation by members of the Joint Health Sector Union (JOHESU).

According to a press statement issued by the ministry of health on Tuesday, Isaac Adewole, the health minister, gave the directive after his attention was drawn to a press briefing by the President of National Association of Resident Doctors (NARD), Ugochukwu Chinaka, who accused members of the Joint Health Sector Union JOHESU of harassing and molesting members of NARD and other medical officers at their respective duty posts.

The minister, in the statement, cautioned the members of the striking union not to harass or molest medical officers at their duty posts and ordered all heads of medical institutions to urgently provide adequate security for the working members of staff.

According to the statement, Mr Adewole was also informed that JOHESU members were accused of locking- up government health facilities to prevent those who are not on strike from gaining access to the facilities.

In view of this, the minister stated that in as much as members of JOHESU have the right to embark on strikes, they do not have the constitutional right to harass other health workers including members of JOHESU who choose to work.

He also said JOHESU members do not have right to lock-up government facilities.

"The federal government would not accept nor condone any act of irresponsibility and disobedience to constituted authorities. All locked health facilities should be opened immediately to enable the facilities provide required services while negotiation continues," Mr Adewole said.

The minister reiterated that any person found disturbing the peace in any health facility should be made to face the law.

The national chairman of JOHESU, Biobebelemoye Josiah, had accused doctors and the ministry of health of sabotage and insincerity in handling their demands.

The chairman had said that Nigerian doctors are planning to frustrate ongoing talks to end the four-week-old strike embarked upon by the union.

Due to the ongoing JOHESU strike, many tertiary and secondary health institutions across the country have been shut down while many are performing below maximum standard. This is due to the fact that all other health workers are not on duty and only doctors have been attending to patients.

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