Reps move to avert nationwide strike, meet JOHESU

• JOHESU protest exclusion of health workers from N23bn skipping allowance

The House of Representatives, on Tuesday, met with the leadership of Joint Health Sector Unions (JOHESU) with the view to avert another nationwide strike and ensure industrial harmony in the sector.

Chairman, House Committee on Health Institutions, Hon. Pascal Obi, who chaired the meeting with the leadership of Joint Health Sector Union (JOHESU) harped on the need to ensure the provision of effective healthcare service delivery to the citizenry and industrial harmony in the health sector while on board.

In his presentation, the JOHESU chairman, Comrade. Biobebelemoye Josiah, who applauded the proactiveness of the committee, called for the intervention of the House in addressing myriads of challenges facing health sector workers who have over the years deprived of rising to the top of the career.

The JOHESU chairman also expressed grave concern over the exclusion of health workers form the payment of N23 billion which was approved by Federal Government via a circular issued by National Salaries and Wages Commission which excluded medical doctors from the allowance.

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While accusing the authorities of Federal Ministry of Health conniving with Nigerian Medical Association (NMA) of inflicting undue hardship on other health workers, who constitute 95 per cent of healthcare deliverer in the country, Comrade Josiah, harped on the need for the committee to demand for copies of the report of the Job Evaluation Plan initiated by former Minister of Health, Prof Adenike Grange, which proffered lasting solution to the crisis in the health sector.

Comrade Josiah, who was a member of the NHIS Board under the last administration, described the National Health Insurance Scheme (NHIS) as a house of horror and expressed readiness to brief the committee on the endemic corruption in NHIS, off-camera.

“The implementation of the NHIS is one of the biggest tragedies in the health sector because as usual, a Nigerian implementation mode was introduced. While JOHESU believes in universal health coverage, the crux of the matter remains that except the fundamental flaws which have allowed coverage to drop from about 8 per cent at inception in 2006 but dropped woefully to 3 per cent as at 2017 and still sliding.

“For the records, the deficiencies inherent in the NHIS include non-adherence to lawful payment mechanisms in the scheme, indiscriminate capitation of secondary and tertiary facilities, poor drug procurement stewardship roles as well as other seemingly wretched stewardship roles of the NHIS secretariat. These and others, must be reversed to salvage the scheme by reviewing the framework, etc. of the scheme,” he urged.

He also informed the lawmakers of the underhand dealing of one of the Chief Medical Director, who proposed to concession the pharmacy which generates about N300 million annually, but is to be concessioned to a private operator with a downward review of an annual income of N100 million.

Comrade Josiah also solicited for the intervention of the committee on issues bothering on conflict areas amongst public health workers and medical doctors; amendment of relevant health/medical related bills as well as the deficiencies in Decree 10 of 1985 now Cap 436 LFN, 2004; non-implementation of court judgements, memorandum of understandings and other collective bargaining agreements between the unions and government as well as non-adherence to rules setting up the Drug Revolving Fund.

Others include discriminatory salaries and wages in the public health sector; incessant and unlawful strike actions by medical doctors, imbalances in the directorates structure at Federal Ministry of Health; unprofessional and hostile disposition if medical doctors to the team concept in healthcare delivery, among others.

Meanwhile, the Association of Resident Doctors, Abuja chapter, on Tuesday, announced their decision to embark on an indefinite strike over non-payment of two-month salary.

The strike action was disclosed in a statement signed by the President of ARD, Abuja chapter, Roland Aigbovo.

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