Expectant and nursing mothers in Abuja on Thursday expressed concerns over the ongoing strike by nurses, midwives and other health workers in Nigeria.
Nurses at public hospitals in the Federal Capital Territory told Premium Times that although they were not part of the strike, they were worried about its effect on health care delivery across the country.
The National Association of Nigerian Nurses and Midwives, NANNM, had on Wednesday directed its members in all federal health institutions to commence an indefinite strike from midnight.
The directive followed the decision by the Joint Health Sector Union, JOHESU, to embark on a nationwide strike, despite an appeal by the Minister of Health, Isaac Adewole.
Nkechi Uche, who is six months pregnant, said she had made plans to register in a private hospital after she heard about the strike, until a family friend who is a medical doctor at the Maitama District Hospital told her that that the hospital would not be part of the strike.
“I began my prenatal here in March and I was particularly worried when I heard about the planned strike action by the health workers,” she told PREMIUM TIMES at the hospital.
“I had told my husband that we should register at a different hospital but when a family friend, Dr. Molokwu, said this hospital will not be joining in the strike, I changed my mind.”
Another expectant mother, Sandra Monye, who spoke with this newspaper at Asokoro General Hospital said: “I was worried because this is my first pregnancy.
“Since I began my prenatal visits in May I haven’t missed a single appointment with them here. So when I heard about it (strike), I was asking myself if I would have to go to a private hospital. But I am glad that things are as normal as they used to be.”
But a nurse, who simply gave her name as Mrs. Ayodele because she was not permitted to speak to the media, said the stand of health workers in the FCT regulated hospitals may not remain the same for long.
“Nobody wants a strike action. It is unfortunate that when these things happen, they always have direct effect on the masses.
“But the problem is with our system. Most times when unions put forward their demands, they are neglected until such an industrial action begins.
“Strike actions like these are dangerous and we are glad that the FCT has not joined in the strike. We are like state-owned hospitals, so we will not join the national body in embarking on this industrial action.
“But if it persists and the demands of the unions are not met, state-owned hospitals, including those under the FCT Administration will eventually have to join the strike.”
A nurse at the Wuse District Hospital also urged the authorities to resolve the strike before it escalates to the other levels.
“We have a whole lot of people in the emergency ward who need constant attention of doctors and nurses. Accident victims, people due for operation, pregnant women and nursing mothers, they will all suffer,” she said.
Rebecca Eteh, who is pregnant for seven months, said at the Wuse hospital that she was relieved that the workers were not part of the strike.
“It would have caused a lot of problems for us pregnant women. We need regular prenatal care. The government should settle whatever issues they have with the health workers,” she said.
A nursing mother, Grace Offiah, said the only people who will be directly affected by the strike are the patients. She therefore called on government and other stakeholders to resolve the issues involved.