Lagos - Essential medical services were on Friday paralysed in some of the Federal Government-owned hospitals and health institutions in Lagos as health and medical workers continued to down tools.
Members of the Medical and Health Workers Union of Nigeria (MHWUN) had on Sept. 18 commenced an indefinite strike.
The workers’ action followed the non-payment of the Consolidated Health Salary Structure (CONHESS) to medical and health workers in the Federal Government-owned hospitals and health institutions.
NAN reports that the patients too had started counting their losses as the nationwide strike entered the fourth day.
Mr Ibe Nwokenta, the MHWUN chairman in Lagos State, said that the strike had paralyzed activities in the all hospitals.
He said that the workers would continue with the action until their demands were met.
Nwokenta said that the union was resolute on the struggle for the implementation of CONHESS.
He urged Prof. Onyebuchi Chukwu, Minister of Health, to withdraw all the previous circulars directing the skipping of implementation of the new salary scale from all the parastatal agencies.
An in-patient with a leg cast, Miss Mosunmola Dada, said that the striking workers were not sensitive to human lives.
She said; "I came from Ikorodu this morning with my mother, only for us to discover that the workers were on strike.
"I am really frustrated about the whole system. Imagine I left home at dawn only for me to discover that the workers are on strike.
"The workers should consider the lives of the patients first and embrace dialogue instead of going on strike.”
Also, Mr Isaac Nwosu, a relative of an in-patient, urged the government to meet the workers’ demands.
"Although, the doctors are attending to us, the nurses in the wards are few. I think this is putting more strain on the doctors.
"If the strike continues, the doctors might be less attentive and this may compound the problems of patients.
"We are appealing to the Federal Government to meet the workers’ demand," he said.
Another out-patient at LUTH, Mrs Etemesan Eke, urged the Federal Government to find ways of resolving the crisis in the health sector.
``The medical and health workers, doctors and nurses are not supposed to go on strike because of human lives involved,” she said.
Also, Mrs Olabisi Akintunji, also an outpatient at LUTH, expressed sadness over the health workers’ action.
Akintunji said that she could not afford to go to another hospital, adding that she was used to LUTH.
``It is very expensive to go to private hospitals and LASUTH is quite a distance from where I am living.
Mrs Rita Mbagwu, a trader, narrating her experience, appealed to the Federal Government to resolve the issue to avoid a prolonged strike.
``The hospitals are our hope when we fall ill. The government should find ways of resolving the issue,`` Mbagwu urged.
A NAN check at the Neuro Psychiatric Hospital showed that none of the striking health workers was on duty and only
the doctors were seen attending to the patients.
At the Orthopedic Hospital, Ikorodu road the administrative block was under lock and key. However, the emergency block was opened and some patients with critical conditions were being attended to.
An intern doctor at LUTH, who pleaded anonymity, urged the Federal Government to meet the demands of the health workers.
"Really, this strike is uncalled for and not necessary because the union is already negotiating with the Federal Government," he said.
An administrative staff, who simply identified himself as Folabi, said that the Federal Government should not renege on the implementation of the consolidated salary for health and medical workers.
"If we are not happy with our pay, how can we carry out our duties diligently?" he queried.
Folabi, however, called on the doctors to join them in the strike to add more weight to their demands.