Minister’s exit excites health workers

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Health workers under the aegis of Nigerian Union of Allied Health Professionals on Thursday expressed joy following the resignation of the Minister of Health, Prof. Onyebuchi Chukwu, to pursue his 2015 governorship ambition in Ebonyi State.

They also blamed him for the underdevelopment of the nation’s health sector.

The National President of NUAHP, who is also the Vice President of Joint Health Sector Union, Felix Faniran, however, called on President Goodluck Jonathan not to appoint a medical doctor as Chukwu’s replacement.

Faniran said this while giving an update on the strike which commenced on Thursday.

He revealed that if the strike by the NUAHP was allowed to continue without prompt resolution of the issues, other health workers in the sector would join action at the end of October.

Faniran said, “It is an exciting news for us to hear that the Minister of Health, Prof. Onyebuchi Chukwu, resigned yesterday (Wednesday) and we are using this forum to call on Mr. President to ensure that a non-medical doctor is appointed to replace him to ensure peace in the health sector.

“The President should consider a person from the Allied Health Professionals as his replacement to ensure balance and harmony in the health sector.

“Since the appointment of Chukwu as the Health Minister, our health sector has not known peace. He has demonstrated that he is a nominee of the NMA and not a minister of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, having been partisan and discriminatory against other health professionals in favour of members of his professional constituency from the beginning till date.”

Meanwhile, the nationwide strike did not affect the delivery of medical services in public hospitals in Oyo, Kwara, and Lagos states.

Health workers were still at their duty posts at the Lagos University Teaching Hospital, Idi-Araba, and the Lagos State University Teaching Hospital, Ikeja, when one of our correspondents visited the hospitals on Thursday.

Nurses, records officers and other health workers were seen attending to patients at the medical records section, the eye and dental clinics and the Accident and Emergency Units of the two teaching hospitals on the first day of the strike.

A nurse, who spoke on condition of anonymity at the Accident and Emergency Unit of LUTH, said they would be assisting the doctors just for that day but they would join their striking colleagues on Monday.

She said, “We can’t just leave like that, we need to put some things in place with some patients who are on medications and also give some situation report to the doctors , so they won’t accuse us of negligence when we come back after the strike. Once we are through with that, we will join the others on Monday.”

It was business as usual when one of our correspondents visited LASUTH in Ikeja. Nurses were seen assisting doctors at both the outpatient and emergency units of the hospital.

Medical activities were in full swing at the University College Hospital, Ibadan, Oyo State, as patients were attended to by doctors and nurses.

UCH’s Public Relations Officer, Ayodeji Bobade, told one of our correspondents that health services were not affected because the striking union constituted a little percentage of the workforce in the hospital.

He added that the workers were only impatient as their demands were being considered by relevant authorities in the sector.

According to him, the resignation of Chukwu also contributed to the workers’ decision to embark on the strike.

Health workers at the University of Ilorin Teaching Hospital, Ilorin, Kwara State, were still attending to patient on Thursday.

When contacted, the UITH Secretary of the union, Elijah Abolarin, said the chapter had agreed during its congress on Wednesday to fully join in the strike when they must have sorted out some internal dispute between laboratory scientists and pathologists who are members of the union.

It will be recalled that the NUAHP whose members comprise of nurses, radiographers, physiotherapists, dieticians and health professionals declared an indefinite nationwide strike in all federal, state and local health institutions on Thursday.

The strike is to protest against the non-implementation of collective bargain agreement and the Memorandum of Understanding between NUAHP and the government and the non-implementation of the judgment of the National Industrial Court of Nigeria.

Others include the unresolved leadership crisis in the health sector, non-commencement of residency training programme for health professionals, non-implementation of new call duty allowance and non-payment of arrears.

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