Ogun, Ekiti doctors embark on indefinite strike

Ogun, Ekiti doctors embark on indefinite strike

The Association of Resident Doctors (ARD) at Olabisi Onabanjo University Teaching Hospital (OOUTH), Sagamu, Ogun State, have embarked on an indefinite

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The Association of Resident Doctors (ARD) at Olabisi Onabanjo University Teaching Hospital (OOUTH), Sagamu, Ogun State, have embarked on an indefinite strike over the non-payment of appropriate remuneration with entry level of CONMESS 3 step 3, hazard allowances and unfair treatment of government to their plight as they battle the novel COVID-19 in the state.

The letter jointly signed by the union’s President, Dr. Popoola Mutiu, and the General Secretary, Dr. Osundara Tope, said the association had resolved to embark on this strike while holding talks with the government over their demands which is legitimate, fair and just as the medical personnel battle against COVID-19.

Mutiu said “We demand appropriate remuneration for all Residents in OOUTH with entry level of CONMESS 3 step 3, hazard allowance of 50% of Consolidated Basic Salary for all doctors in OOUTH, implementation of New Minimum Wage for all Doctors in OOUTH which must reflect equity, justice and fairness, life insurance for all doctors in OOUTH, continued provision of Adequate PPE for doctors in OOUTH.

In a swift response, the Secretary to the State Government, Ogun State, Mr. Olatokunbo Talabi, promised that the state government will look into their plight.

The President of the Association, Mutiu said the association had expected Governor Dapo Abiodun to give the report of the Nigeria Governors’ Forum (NGF) meeting held on 24th June, 2020 on issues that bother on our agitations. We continued our weekend strike hoping the government will listen to our plea, however, our prayers were seen as a disturbing child’s cry.

“Since it appears our agitations are not worthy before Ogun State Government, which invariably begat complete insouciance to our concerns, the House has therefore decided to embark on indefinite strike starting from 1st July, 2020,” he said.

Similarly, doctors in Ekiti State under the aegis of the National Association of Government General Medical and Dental Practitioners (NAGGMDP) withdrew their services from the public hospitals with the exception of the doctors in Ekiti State University Teaching Hospital (EKSUTH).

The affected hospitals are the state’s 19 general hospitals, three specialist hospitals and more than 100 healthcare centres scattered across the 16 local government areas. The medical practitioners accused the government of neglecting the health sector, acute shortage of manpower, unpaid arrears of three-month-salaries, backlog of unpaid allowances, non-implementation of agreements on hazard allowances, poor working tools, among numerous others.

In a letter addressed to the governor by the doctors’ association, the government was accused of “encouraging a massive exodus of healthcare workers from the state by making the working environment hostile to them. The letter, which was dated May 29, and signed by the association’s chairman and secretary, Adeniyi Sunday and Adeleye Crave respectively, said “merely 65 medical officers and five consultants are working at the 22 secondary healthcare facilities”.

According to the group, between October 2019 when a comprehensive report on the state of the facilities and suggestions on the way forward was presented to Governor Kayode Fayemi, and May 29 when a 21-day ultimatum was issued to the state, 24 medical doctors including 11 consultants have left the state’s service.

The doctors, therefore, demanded “immediate implementation of skipping allowance with full consolidated medical salary structure (CONMESS), immediate implementation of financial benefits of promotion up to date, immediate implementation of full rural posting allowance, immediate payment of teaching allowance, and immediate implementation of regular hazard allowance”.

Other demands include the immediate payment of special covid-19 hazard allowance as contained in the MoU between the federal government and health workers’ unions, payment of three months salary arrears, and consequential adjustment of our salary based on the new minimum wage law. The striking doctors have insisted that until there is clear evidence of implementation of the demands in their respective salaries, there will be no end to the ongoing strike.

According to a member of the association who does not want to be quoted for fear of sanction, the situation is worse at the primary healthcare centres, where less than 12 doctors serve more than 100 primary healthcare centres that are scattered across the towns and villages within the 16 local government areas.

“Each of the 16 local government areas has about 10 healthcare centres and none of these health centres has medical doctors working there. The about 10 doctors in service of the primary healthcare board only sit at the local government headquarters while the community health extension workers (CHEW), who are products of schools of health technologies, take charge of the healthcare centres.

“As a medical doctor who is the only one serving my general hospital I am permanently on call duty, yet my take-home isn’t up to N200,000. Most doctors working in this state are only passers-by, we take off as soon as opportunity comes.”

According to another medical officer, the last time the state recruited doctors was in 2018 during the administration of former Governor Ayodele Fayose. “17 doctors were recruited then but only six are left in the service of the state.”