Doctors’ Strike Paralyses Hospitals Nationwide

Doctors yesterday began a five-day warning strike to press for their demands, which include correction of alleged anomaly in the payroll and personnel information system.

The doctors, under the aegis of Nigeria Medical Association (NMA), stayed away from virtually all government-owned hospitals in the nation.

There was unusual quiet at the Lagos University Teaching Hospital (LUTH), Idi Araba; Federal Neuro-Psychiatric Hospital, Yaba; Federal Medical Centre, Ebute Metta and National Orthopaedic Hospital, Igbobi.

Most patients left frustrated as they were not attended to.

It was particularly difficult for patients needing emergency treatment, as they were advised to seek alternative treatment in private clinics/facilities.

At the Lagos State University Teaching Hospital (LASUTH), some patients appealed to the doctors to resolve their grievances with the government, instead of embarking on strike.

They said the striking doctors should consider the health conditions of the people.

The Chairman of NMA in Lagos State, Dr Francis Faduyile, said all Federal Government-owned hospitals in Lagos complied with the directive.

He said: “The strike was effective because all doctors complied with the directive.”

A senior resident doctor at LUTH, Dr Peter Ogunnubi, said full compliance with the strike was being enforced.

He said: “As a result of the poor state of the nation’s health facilities, many of our doctors have been forced to leave the country and work where the condition of service is better.

“The budgetary allocation of five per cent to the sector also falls short of the World Health Organisation’s standard that stipulated at least 15 per cent.

“The Federal Government has allowed certain policies in the running of health care system, which if not checked, will lead to total collapse and paralysis of the system.”

Ogunnubi added: “We are not leaving the patients in the lurch, but we are fighting for their good.”

Also, Dr Oluwajimi Sodipo, the president, Association of Resident Doctors in LASUTH, noted that there was full compliance with the NMA’s directive .

Dr Olugbenga Owoeye, a consultant psychiatrist at the Federal Neuro-Psychiatric Hospital, Yaba, said consultants and resident doctors withdrew their services at the hospital.

At the University of Benin Teaching Hospital (UBTH), Benin in Edo State, emergency cases were rejected but some patients were still at the ward when our reporter visited.

Some out-patients said they were not aware of the strike. They waited several hours and later left.

At the Central Hospital, patients were not also attended to. Some were discharged yesterday.

President of the UBTH chapter of the Association of Resident Doctors, Dr. Goodluck Imodu said only in-patients with critical cases were looked at. He said the strike was total.

“The strike is total. We don’t want to suffer the people during the Yuletide. We cannot leave the in-patients who are critical; we look at them once in a while.

“We don’t attend to emergency cases. We allow private hospitals to operate for people not to suffer.”

At the University College Hospital, Ibadan, and State Hospital, Adeoyo, also in Ibadan as well as Oni and Sons, doctors were not attending to patients.

But at the hospitals, senior medical officers were around to attend to emergencies.

The development led to some in- patients being transferred to private hospitals for proper medical attention.

Addressing reporters in Ibadan yesterday, NMA Chairman in Oyo State, Prof Adefolarin Malomo, said the chapter complied with the national directive.

The chairman said the need for the strike was to advocate for the patients and good health care delivery in the country.

In the nation’s capital, doctors at the National Hospital, Abuja, refused to attend to patients.

In one of the hospitals visited, doctors were seen attending to patients, though they acknowledged that the strike was on.

A doctor, who pleaded for anonymity, said: “Yes, the strike by our umbrella body has started, but we here are working.

“We are tired of these frequent strikes. As I am talking to you now, many patients will die today due to lack of attention.

“We have been trained to save lives. Their blood will be on our heads, if we fail to save them because of our disagreement with the government.

“I suggest that the NMA executives continue negotiating with the government while we continue to render our services.

“They should not compare our work with the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU).

“ASUU can put modalities in place to cover its scheme of work, but in our case, once a life is lost, we cannot bring it back. I totally disagree with these frequent strikes by doctors.

“Many of my colleagues are not in support of these endless strikes, but because of fear of being tagged ‘rebels’ by the NMA, they just sit at home.

“If you check very well some doctors today will join some of our colleagues in the private sector to assist them. As I am talking to you, I am weeping inside.”

There were medical activities at the General Hospital, Minna, yesterday but doctors at the Federal Medical Centre, Bida, withdrew their services.

Doctors at the Minna Hospital were seen attending to patients.

Some of the doctors claimed that NMA officers were yet to communicate the directive to them.

Though none of them was ready to talk to our correspondent, a dentist said: “Doctors are still working, despite the directive from the national body.”

At the Federal Medical Centre, it was gathered that patients were discharged on Tuesday.

The state Secretary of NMA, Dr. Mohammed Makanta, admitted that activities at the General Hospital, Minna, which he described as “partial”, was to enable doctors discharge their patients.

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