By Foster Obi
Nigeria Joint Health Sector Unions (JOHESU) has alerted that the health system will be paralyzed if the government does not meet the demands of health workers in 30 days. According to JOHESU’s national vice president, Ogbonna Chimela, this will be a mega strike and if it starts the states and local governments will join together to create the needed impact. “We’ll paralyze the health system in Nigeria for the first time, Chimela said during a telephone interview with Premium Times news medium. He criticized the lack of seriousness of the authorities towards the organization, which brings under one umbrella, hospital workers, as well as doctors and dentists. The sector already carried out a national strike last September to protest, among other issues, demand for better wages, against delays in promotions and depressing working conditions.
The strike last year also involved the National Association of Nurses and Midwives, and then JOHESU reached an agreement with the government. However, Chimela noted that six months after the settlement, the government has not yet complied with any of their demands. “We can no longer sit and wait. We started this negotiation in 2009; in 2012 we reached an agreement. In 2014 there was also an agreement. All these meetings have culminated in an agreement without proper implementation,” he said.
The Nigerian Medical Association believes many of the demands made by JOHESU is unacceptable, since it considers that doctors cannot receive the same salary as other health workers. Finally, Chimela recalled that his organization comprises 95 percent of the workforce in the health sector, while NMA is only five percent and while the doctors saw their requests met, the others have remained marginalized