COVID-19: We are on strike over poor welfare conditions ― Ekiti doctors
The Nigerian Medical Association (NMA), Ekiti chapter, has defended its members over the industrial action they embarked upon despite the COVID-19 challenges, saying poor welfare conditions of medical doctors operating in the state compelled the situation.
The Doctors pleaded with members of the public not to perceive their members as being insensitive to the COVID-19 pandemic ravaging the nation and the danger it poses to the populace.
The medical personnel, said they embarked on the strike after exhausting 28 days ultimatum issued to the government, but without proper actions to assure them that their demands will be met.
Doctors in the Health Management Board (HMB), covering three Specialist Hospitals, 19 general hospitals and primary healthcare facilities under the auspices of National Association of Government General Medical and Dental Practitioners (NAGGMD), had 13 days ago withdrawn their services over alleged wage disparity, unpaid allowances, among other matters.
A statement in Ado Ekiti, the state capital on Monday, the Ekiti NMA Chairman, Dr Tunji Omotayo, who described the strike as appropriate, said the doctors would only return to their duty posts after their rural, hazard and skipping allowances, as well as other pending welfare issues, are met.
The NMA boss also sought appropriate placement of promoted officers, saying the disparity in the conditions of service between the doctors in the employment HMB and other State’s establishment is capable of worsening the already precarious health indices in Ekiti rural and semi-urban communities.
He said: “The implication of failure to implement skipping allowance is that doctors will only endure the hostile working conditions in the employment of the HMB until they can secure a more attractive employment elsewhere. This is the reason why the number of doctors under the employment of the HMB will continue to dwindle.
“Just like skipping, only the doctors in the employment of the HMB are not being paid hazard allowance. Unlike other doctors all over the nation, this has not been paid to HMB doctors for over 10 years.
“For over 10 years, the doctors have endured 50% implementation of rural posting allowance despite assurances to regularize it within 6 months. Continued migration of their colleagues out of these hospitals without commensurate replacement results in increased workload and loss of motivation.”
Omotayo said failure to find solutions to this impasse will put pressure on the already overstretched health facilities in the State, saying whatever government is doing in the health sector without addressing these issues will amount to window dressing.
“The HMB is responsible for the management of the hospitals and has about 70 doctors to run the 22 specialist and general hospitals. This means, an average of three doctors per hospital with some of the hospitals having only one doctor.
“The three specialist hospitals had 15 Consultants, but are now left with just five. In the primary healthcare system, there are only 12 doctors leaving some local government areas without clinical cover for their primary healthcare facilities.
“The secondary healthcare facilities are worst hit with not only external migration of its doctors to other states but also to internal migration to other hospitals in the state where they are attracted to better conditions of service.”