JOHESU Strike: Health Minister talks tough, orders resumption, vows no pay for striking workers

Prof. Isaac Adewole. Minister of Health
Prof. Isaac Adewole. Minister of Health

The Minister of Health, Isaac Adewole, has directed the governing boards of federal tertiary health institutions to convene emergency meetings of boards and order back to work striking health workers.

According to a press statement issued by the ministry on Monday, the minister also had an emergency meeting with the medical directors and chief medical directors of tertiary hospitals to review the status of services being rendered at the various health institutions in view of the ongoing strike.

The minister, in the statement signed by the Director, Media and Public Relations, Boade Akinola, said anyone who fails to resume after the directives of the governing boards, would be considered to have absconded from duty without leave.

This, he said is a serious misconduct in line with the Public Service rule 030413.

The health workers across secondary and tertiary health institutions in the country have been on strike for 41 days. Their demands include increment in salary and increase in retirement age of health workers.

The health workers, members of the union, JOHESU, have also accused Mr Adewole, a medical doctor of bias; and called for his sack. This followed the threat by doctors that should the government heed the demands of JOHESU, doctors would commence a nationwide strike.

The workers strike has paralysed health service delivery across most health institutions. Doctors have been the only health professionals attending to patients. This, however has not been effective causing most ill people to seek medical attention at private health institutions.

Mr Adewole said monitoring teams were dispatched to tertiary hospitals to access the activities in various hospitals and reports were presented at the meeting.

“The report revealed that some hospitals were doing well in providing care to the people while others have performed below expectation,” he said.

The minister commended the facilities that are offering full services using locum staff and volunteers and directed immediate restoration of full services in all the other facilities.

He singled out facilities in North-east, North-west and South-south zones of the country for outstanding performance.

Mr Adewole said there was no reason why each hospital should not have one ward per specialty open for operation.

He said one gynaecology ward, one obstetrics ward, one paediatric ward, one surgical ward and one medical ward should be kept functioning immediately in facilities that are yet to do so.

“The clinics must run, theatre must be opened; there is no reason why they should lock your theatre. No one has the right to lock up government hospitals,” the minister said.

Mr Adewole also maintained that everyone who participated in the strike would not be paid for the period of the strike even if the strike is called off.

“We want you to go back and restore services in your various institutions immediately,” he said.

The minister urged heads of the governing boards to take charge of their facilities. He said any chief executive not willing to keep the services running, should be suspended and be replaced with another officer in acting capacity.

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