Patients Lament Services Disruption as JOHESU/AHPA Strike Hits Day 4



Patients waiting area at the Federal Medical Centre, Ebute-Metta, Lagos.

It is not the best of times for anyone to seek medical attention from Federal Government owned hospitals, as the nationwide industrial action embarked upon by health workers under the umbrella of the Joint Health Sector Unions (JOHESU) and the Assembly of Healthcare Professional Associations (AHPA) is taking a toll on patients and their relatives, making it pretty difficult for them to access services from the medical records section to the pharmacy and laboratory, among others.

Although checks by our correspondent on different hospitals showed skeletal services were ongoing in some places, but patients have expressed their frustrations with the services disruption, which have prevented them from receiving holistic care, even with the present of doctors and nurses .

A mother of a teenage girl, simply known as Mrs Adewunmi, whose daughter was admitted at the Lagos University Teaching Hospital,(LUTH) due to a complicated malaria case, expressed her perplexion on how she couldn’t access service from the laboratory, where she was sent to conduct a new set of tests for her daughter.

“I’m really perplexed at what is happening here, because I can’t imagine how one can’t access services from the lab in such a large institution, due to some workers down tooling. I can’t imagine leaving my daughter in the hospital without anyone to stay with her, in search of medical laboratory test. Since she has been admitted two days ago, this has been our experience”, she lamented.

Patients at the Federal Medical Centre, Ebute-Metta, also shared their experiences with Pharmanewsonline, although theirs was not as bad as that of LUTH, as the hospital management recruited corps members to work in pharmacy units and other areas where the strike affected services.

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An elderly man, Mr Felix Kalu, at the FMC Ebute-Mette, who came for general consultation, explained how he had to wait longer than usual before he could see the doctor, due to the absence of medical records staff on ground, “On getting to the pharmacy, I realised younger staff members were the ones at work, and that increased my fears in the accuracy of the drugs they dispensed to me. I had to return to the doctor to confirm the exact dosage before leaving the hospital”, he remarked.

Also speaking in a telephone interview with the Director of Pharmaceutical Services, Federal Medical Centre, Owo, Ondo State, Pharm. (Dr) Funmilayo Oluwatimilehin, she revealed how the pharmacy department has almost turned to a ghost centre, with the absence of pharmacists at work, subjecting patients to harrowing experience before getting their medications. She also remarked on the huge loss of revenue due to the strike, as she called on the new administration of Bola Ahmed Tinubu to quickly resolve the impasse.

According to her, “Since the strike began, it’s not been easy for patients to purchase their drugs in the hospital, in fact, the pharmacy department has been like a ghost centre, because out of seven pharmacy outlets in the hospital, only one outlet is operating.

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“The government is losing a lot, as the major units generating revenue in the hospital- the pharmacy and laboratory, are on strike. It will be wise for the new government to swing into action immediately and meet out demands”.

A quick check on the Lagos State University Teaching Hospital, (LASUTH) also showed the effects of the strike, as there was no significant services at the pharmaceutical department, with patients left to sort their prescribed medications at privately operated pharmacies around Ikeja axis.

In a chat with the Director of Pharmaceutical Services, LASUTH, Pharm. (Dr) Modupe Oyawole, who was not on ground during the visit of Pharmanewsonline to the hospital, said it will be difficult to get any pharmacist in the hospital, as they are in full compliance with the strike. She said they will be ready to resume as soon as the government grants their requests.

Confirming compliance with the industrial action at the Federal Medical Centre, Asaba, Delta State, Deputy Director of Pharmaceutical Services, Pharm. (Dr) Kingsley Amibor, hinted on the effects of the strike, as other health workers aside doctors and nurses are not at work, with patients grappling with disrupted medical services.

In a telephone interview with Pharmanewsonline, he said “the strike is fully on at the Federal Medical Centre Asaba. The physicians and nurses are not on strike, but other professionals, including pharmacists are on strike.

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“The strike is for a just cause and it is expected that all the professional groups who complain of unfair treatment, oppression and marginalisation by the Federal Ministry of Health, should join in the strike”.

Recall that JOHESU/AHPA had issued a 15- day strike ultimatum to the Federal Government effective from 10 May, the expiration of which led to an indefinite strike on 26 May.

In a statement signed by the JOHESU’s acting National Secretary, Comrade Mathew Ajorutu, on behalf of the national chairman, he listed the major demands of the two associations which include, adjustment of Consolidated Health Salary Structure (CONHESS) as agreed in terms of settlement (TOS) of September 30, 2017.

The union is also calling for the payment of a peculiar allowance to health workers under the aegis of JOHESU/ AHPA as well as the immediate and unconditional implementation of the Consultant Cadre circular of pharmacists in all federal health institutions (FHIs).

Other demands are the payment of all withheld salaries of JOHESU/AHPA members in Federal Medical Centre (FMC) Owerri, the Jos University Teaching Hospital (JUTH), LUTH and their withheld April and May 2018 salaries.

Speedy adjustment of retirement age from 60 to 65 years; the inclusion of some health workers in the payment of new hazard allowance and payment of COVID 19 allowance balance, are other demands of the Union.


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