Nigerian doctors have threatened to go on mass ‘sabbatical’ if the federal government accedes to the demand of other health sector workers.
In what is clearly a continuation of the rivalry between doctors and other health workers, the doctors, under the banner of the Nigerian Medical Association, NMA, described the association of other health workers, JOHESU, as an ‘illegal body.’
The NMA declared its opposition to many of the demands made by JOHESU, describing them as unacceptable.
The members of JOHESU are hospital workers apart from medical doctors and dentists.
The NMA Chairman, Mike Ogirima, while addressing a news conference in Ilorin on Monday to mark the 2017 Physician Week, warned that doctors “will be compelled to take a sabbatical, if JOHESU does not contain its radicalism.”
“Government should not allow itself to be intimidated by illegal bodies like JOHESU in the health sector; we expect each professional to stick to the ethics of their profession,” he said.
The chairman also alleged that doctors are now endangered species in the communities and traditional hospital environment.
“The value for money and hospitals titles have made the members of JOHESU to set up fellowship colleges with the aim of bearing the title of consultants,’’ he said.
JOHESU embarked on a nationwide strike on September 20 to protest among other issues, salaries adjustments, promotion arrears, and improved work environment for its members.
In compliance with the declaration of an indefinite strike by JOHESU, the National Association of Nigeria Nurses and Midwives, NANNM directed its members to stay away from all federal health institutions across the country.
On the 9th day of the strike, JOHESU struck a deal with government.
The national chairman of the union, Biobelemoye Josiah, said the strike had been suspended “in principle”. He said the union has reached an agreement with the federal government and workers are to resume work.
NMA KICKS AGAINST THE AGREEMENT
The NMA opposed the agreement the federal government reached with JOHESU, thus sending a warning signal that professional rivalry may lead to serious crisis in the health sector.
The NMA referred to JOHESU’s demands and the agreement reached with the union as an aberration in health service in the country and called on the government to urgently redress it.
The NMA specifically opposed salary harmonization, one of the important agreements government reached with JOHESU, and declared that the doctors cannot receive the same salary as other health workers.
“NMA is totally opposed to salary harmonization as doctors are not prepared to receive the same salary as other health workers,” the NMA warned in an open letter written to the Minister of Labour and Employment.
Top on the list of issues raised in the October 3 letter was that JOHESU has no justification to demand for adjustment of salary scale as was done for CONMESS.
“What JOHESU is asking for is equal pay with medical doctors. No single evidence was provided by JOHESU to justify their demand.
“The NMA is not opposed to any salary review, adjustment or increase for JOHESU members or any other worker for that matter provided that the same rate applied to CONHESS is applied to CONMESS to sustain the principle of relativity agreement as signed between the Federal Government and NMA on the 2nd of January, 2014”, the letter read in part.
Consolidated Medical Salary Structure, CONMESS, is the salary structure for medical and dental officers in the federal public service while Consolidated Health Salary Structure, CONHESS, is the salary structure for pharmacists, medical laboratory, nurses and other health workers in the health sector of the federal public service.
On Monday, Mr. Ogirima also appealed to the federal government to operationalise the National Health Act of 2014, which made provisions among others the pooling of not less than one per cent of consolidated revenue as Basic Health Provision Fund (BHPF) to cater for the vulnerable.