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Monday, July 15, 2024

While workers’ strike lasted, hospitals offered skeletal services in Nigeria’s capital

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Government-owned medical centers across the country are complying with the directive of the Nigerian Labor Congress (NLC) and the Nigerian Trade Union Congress (TUC) to embark on a nationwide indefinite strike limiting services provided to cases of emergency.

At the Wuse District Hospital of the Abuja Municipal Council, patients who visited in the early hours of Monday were prohibited from entering the facility as workers continued to reiterate that they were on strike.

A pregnant patient, who identified herself simply as Regina, who visited the hospital early Monday morning for prenatal care, had to stay in the hospital until after 2 p.m., a situation she described as unusual.

Although she finally received the care she needed, it took longer than usual, Regina told PREMIUM TIMES. According to her, several pregnant women were gathered outside with her, waiting to be allowed into the facility.

The patient said that by the time the center began seeing women, the group had become crowded, resulting in a long line and even longer wait times.

“It was unfair,” he said. “If they don’t serve everyone, they should at least prioritize pregnant women.”

However, unlike Regina, another pregnant patient who declined to be identified said she was unable to get the health services she needed. She said that after waiting for hours, she discovered that the hospital, due to the NLC strike, could not admit her to give birth as previously planned.

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“They said I couldn’t give birth to the child here because of the strike. Instead, they recommended a private hospital where I am supposed to have my child,” she said.

When Newslodgevisited hospitals in Abuja, it found a high level of compliance. Many of the facilities had fewer professionals present at work. Around 2 p.m., many of these staff had to leave their workplace or had closed for the day.

Wuse hospital is deserted

At the National Hospital in Abuja, our reporter discovered that some patients seeking medical attention were turned away or referred to a private facility. Some others, like Rejoice Julius, a patient battling kidney disease, were left stranded.

Mrs Julius told this reporter that when she arrived at the Wuse District Hospital, the health professionals who were supposed to care for the patients were nowhere to be found.

According to health workers, hospitals could only offer minimal services due to a shortage of staff present and the unavailability of other resources, such as electricity, due to the strike.

Our reporter found that emergency cases requiring more serious procedures, such as surgical operations, were not attended to because there were only doctors at work, while health workers whose associations are affiliated to the NLC and the TUC, such as nurses, pharmacists and community health workers. , among others, were absent from work

Abuja National Hospital

National Hospital spokesperson Tayo Haastrup confirmed that the hospital was only able to offer skeletal and emergency services because a significant number of its workers joined the strike.

Tayo Haastrup, spokesperson for the Abuja National Hospital

He stated that the majority of the establishment’s high-level health professionals were available to care for patients depending on the service required.

However, he noted that the strike had affected the quality of service provided to patients in need of medical attention and the speed of work at the center.

Partial compliance at FMC Jabi

At the Federal Medical Center in Jabi, compliance with the directive was also partial.

When the Newslodgereporter arrived at the hospital around 10 am on Tuesday, there was little or no sign that the workers were on strike. This newspaper learned that the hospital management sought the cooperation and collaboration of the workers to care for many of the patients upon admission while also caring for critical cases.

The Public Relations Officer (PRO) of the facility, Obadiah Gana, told our reporter in his office on Tuesday that there was only partial compliance with the strike because the hospital deals with lives.

He said: “As you know, we deal with lives, so there can’t be a complete lockdown here. However, there were personnel who complied.

“The hospital management has put in place a system according to which, even in the event of a strike, one is free to come to work voluntarily.”

Power outage affects services

Unlike other general hospitals in the FCT, Garki General Hospital was fully operational when Newslodgevisited. This is because the facility is managed through a public-private partnership.

According to Adeleye Moses, a laboratory scientist at the hospital, this is due to a public-private partnership and therefore was not “really” directly affected by the strike.

Adeleye Moses

However, due to the nationwide power outage, Moses said the hospital could not offer 24-hour service as was the practice before the strike.

Also intervening was one of Mr Moses’ colleagues, Success Igbinosa, who expressed concern about the impact of the strike on the health of many patients while it lasted.

About the strike

Both the NLC and the TUC had been negotiating with the Nigerian government for a new minimum wage since President Bola Tinubu openly declared the elimination of the fuel subsidy following his inauguration in 2023.

The consequences of the president’s action, the unions insisted, had included volatile exchange rate markets, rising inflation and the resulting increase in the cost of goods and services across the country.

In May, the government proposed a minimum wage of N60,000, noting that accepting the union’s demand of N490,000 would cripple the economy and lead to job losses.

However, the unions rejected this offer and in response issued a nationwide strike notice. Newslodgeobserved that since the start of the strike, schools and offices have also been closed, and activities have been interrupted in hospitals.

But on Tuesday, after long hours of Monday afternoon meetings between government officials and leaders of the striking unions, an agreement was reached and the unions announced the suspension of the strike for a week to accede to the government’s commitment to the terms of the agreement.

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