The Nigerian Medical Association (NMA), Ekiti chapter, on Monday, said that the ongoing strike by its members was not a sign of wickedness, especially in the face of the raging COVID-19 pandemic.
The association, in a statement issued by its Chairman, Dr Tunji Omotayo, in Ado-Ekiti, said that the strike was rather necessitated by had the poor welfare condition of the doctors.
The association insisted that the doctors would only return to their duty posts after their rural, hazard and skipping allowances as well as other pending welfare issues were met.
While further defending the industrial action embarked upon by the doctors amidst the rampaging coronavirus pandemic, the chairman explained the welfare condition of the medical doctors operating in the state was nothing to write home about.
The News Agency of Nigeria recalls that doctors working with the state Health Management Board (HMB), covering three Specialist Hospitals, 19 general hospitals and primary healthcare facilities, had, about two weeks ago, withdrawn their services over alleged wage disparity and unpaid allowances, among other matters.
The doctors were operating under the aegis of National Association of Government General Medical and Dental Practitioners (NAGGMD),
Omotayo, however, pleaded with members of the public not to perceive their members as being insensitive to the deadly disease.
He said that his members decided to embark on the strike after exhausting the 28-day ultimatum issued to the government without getting positive response from the government on their demands.
The NMA chairman also sought appropriate placement of promoted officers.
He said that the disparity in the conditions of service between the doctors in the employment HMB and other government’s establishments was capable of worsening the already precarious health indices in the rural and semi-urban communities in the state.
He said: “The implication of failure to implement skipping allowance is that doctors will only endure the hostile working conditions government’s job until they can secure more attractive jobs elsewhere.
“This is why the number of doctors under the employment of HMB will continue to reduce.
“Just like skipping, only the doctors in the employment of HMB are not being paid hazard allowance. Unlike other doctors all over the country, this has not been paid to the doctors in the last 10 years.
“For over 10 years, doctors have endured 50 percent implementation of rural posting allowance, despite assurances to regularise it within six months.
“The continued migration of their colleagues out of these hospitals without commensurate replacement has resulted in increased workload and loss of motivation for those remaining.”
Omotayo said that failure to find solutions to the contentious issues might put pressure on the already overstretched health facilities in the state.
According to him, whatever government may be doing in the health sector without addressing the issues will amount to window dressing.
“HMB is responsible for the management of the hospitals and has about 70 doctors to run the 22 specialist and general hospitals. This means that an average of three doctors per hospital, with some of the hospitals having only one doctor each.
“The three specialist hospitals used to have 5 consultants but they are now left with only five.
“In the primary healthcare sector, there are only 12 doctors, leaving some local government areas without clinical cover for their primary healthcare facilities.
“The secondary healthcare facilities are the worse hit, with not only external migration of doctors to other states, but also internal migration to other hospitals within the state, with better conditions of service,” he said.
Edited By: Remi Koleoso and (NAN)‘Wale Sadeeq
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