NIGERIA: Fashola Pleads with Doctors to End Strike

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Lagos State Governor, Mr. Babatunde Fashola (SAN), yesterday appealed to the National Medical Association (NMA) to call off its strike action, citing its implication for the patients.

The governor also offered automatic employment to the 265 fresh graduates of the Lagos State College of Health Technology in Yaba, assuring that his administration would continue to employ staff in some sectors of the economy.

He disclosed this at the college’s second convocation ceremony while urging all medical workers to desist from using strike actions as a means of getting their demands met.

At the convocation, the governor argued that those that invented strikes in the country’s health sector did it for the sake of their patients and not for themselves, thereby asking the present crop of doctors to emulate the past leaders.

According to him, all medical workers from the lowest medical worker to the highest in the chain of command are like gods on earth. Only sick people and I know your importance.
He said workers in other sectors of the country’s economy “are not satisfied with their remuneration. They are not holding governments to ransom because they do not want Nigeria to fail.

He explained the importance of fresh graduates in the state’s healthcare system, noting that what delighted him “is that we are producing graduates in areas where the state economy has a compelling need. The primary healthcare is critical to the Lagos economy.

He said the state healthcare initiative was targeted at prevention, thereby offering automatic employment “to the 265 fresh graduates of the college. The state government’s primary objective is to make sure that hospitals are not filled because they ensure initially that the people do not fall sick.”

He said the state government would readily grant autonomy to the governing councils and management running institutions in the state, assuring that the government would only intervene in their affairs when it becomes inevitable.

Meanwhile, the Chief Medical Director of the University of Calabar Teaching Hospital (UCTH), Dr. Thomas Agan, has called on the federal government and the Nigeria Medical Association (NMA) to return to the negotiating table to resolve the differences that brought about the current strike by doctors.

Reacting to the strike in his office while fielding questions from journalists, the medical director described the industrial action as an ill-wind that was not doing the country’s healthcare delivery any good.

He said he was disturbed by the decision of the doctors to embark on strike without considering the sensitive nature of their job and appealed to his colleagues to suspend the strike in the interest of their patients.

“Though the issues raised are germane, it is important for the federal government and the Nigeria Medical Association to return to the round-table and revisit the issues that led to this strike in the interest of the public,’’ Agan said.

He appealed to the striking doctors to consider the plight of patients and give peace a chance even as he urged the federal government to carefully listen to and address grievances of medical doctors.

But the Chairman of NMA in Cross River State, Dr. Callistus Enyuma, has vowed that the association will not return to work until all the 24 points demands of the association were met.
He listed some of the demands to include creation of office of a Surgeon-General of the Federation as well as reviewing doctors’ salary scale “to reflect relativity in international best practices.”

Others are reserving the position of Chief Medical Director of a Federal hospital exclusively for medical doctors and ignoring the agitation by paramedics to become consultants, among others.

“Until these demands, which I must tell you are 24 are met, we will not admit new patients. However all the patients who have been in the hospital and whose cases are serious would be taken care of effectively,” he said.

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