The National Association of Nigerian Nurses and Midwifery (NANNW) at the weekend suspended its planned nationwide strike, which was billed to commence today pending the implementation of its demands by the government.
At a meeting at the instance of the Minister of Labour and Productivity, Chief Emeka Wogu, it was agreed that the union shelve its decision to embark on strike given the delicate nature of the services they render in the nationâ€™s health sector.
But speaking to THISDAY in an interview, the President of NANNW, Abdrafiu Adeniji, said though the association had suspended the strike pending the implementation of its two basic demands, the strike had not been called off.
â€œThere is a difference between suspension and calling off a strike,â€ he said.
Adeniji said: â€œWhat happened is that there was a meeting, they actually requested for suspension, so the strike has been suspended, NANNW has given a one week ultimatum for the request to be met.
â€œIf the National Council on Establishments adopt our unified scheme of services for nurses, internship for our fresh graduates from our universities, then, the strike will no longer hold, but for now, weâ€™ve only suspended the strike, with an ultimatum for one week.â€
In another development, The Edo State Government and doctors in the state under the umbrella of the Nigeria Medical Association (NMA) have reached a deal on the matters affecting the doctorsâ€™ conditions of service and improving infrastructure in the health sector in the state.
The doctors had gone on a strike last year to press home their demands for employment into various cadres in the health management board, improvement in the infrastructure in hospitals and health centres across the state and full implementation of the doctors Consolidated Medical Service Scale (CONMESS) and Consolidated Health Sector Scale (CONHESS).
Speaking after a meeting with the doctors, at the weekend, Governor Adams Oshiomhole told journalists that: â€œI just finished a meeting with the doctors, and what was discussed was about the entire healthcare delivery chain including primary healthcare centre and the fact that we have carried out a comprehensive survey to establish precisely where have health centres, hospitals, and how many doctors, nurses, we need and now we have all those figures with us and the challenge is finding the money to employ all the hands that we need.
â€œWe are convinced that there is no point opening a hospital without a doctor, because the building as a will not treat anybody. It is the doctor inside the building. If we have all the equipment and the human beings are missing, then we have a problem.â€
The state Commissioner for Health, Dr. Aihanuwa Eregie, who shed more light on some of the discussions the governor had with the doctors, said: â€œWe just concluded a meeting between the Edo State Government chaired by Mr Governor himself and those at the meeting were members of the NMA and under that we have the Medical and Dental Consultants Association of Nigeria (MDCAN), HMB branch, Association of Resident Doctors, HMB Branch and then the Joint Action Committee members comprising other workers within the health sector.
â€œThe main issues discussed were the issues of the shortfall in the salaries structure that is CONMESS and CONHESS; we also discussed the issues of promotion, the issues of sorting out infrastructure within the health sector and then staff motivation. The meeting ended on a positive note with the workers being satisfied, it was quite cordial and we are looking forward to working in a more cordial, more friendly health sector consequently.â€
The NMA Chairman, Dr. Emmanuel Ighodaro, on his part, said: â€œI want to say today has been a happy day in the health sector in Edo State, reason being that, you will recall in the last two months, issues concerning health has been very turbulent and stakeholders in healthcare in Edo, Nurses, Doctors and all that have been agitating, but today, there was a landmark achievement.
â€œWe agree quite honestly that the issues concerning health cannot be solved in one day, but all we are clamoured for was that the right step to be taken. Today, the right step has been taken and all other ancillary issues were also addressed. As we speak, government has said even now, we must do something and we are very grateful to them. We are saying the people should keep faith with us and keep faith with the government.â€