Health and medical workers have shelved their scheduled industrial action on the backdrop of a 15-day MoU to the Federal Government by the Joint Health Sector Unions (JOHESU). They are to sign another Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with the gvernment next week on modalities for bringing about their agreement.
Dr. Chris Ngige, speaking after a conciliation meeting in Abuja, said all parties signed an understanding, including enhancement of hazard allowance, reassessment of retirement age from 60 to 65 years, arrears of national minimum wage consequential adjustments and upward review of Consolidated Health Salary Structure (CONHESS) as done to the Consolidated Medical Salary Structure (CONMESS).
The minister noted that they had no issue with the old problems, as the meeting accepted that the new ones should be directed to the employer Federal Ministry of Health for deliberation.
On the hazard allowance, Ngige noted that the government had four meetings earlier with JOSEHU and the Nigerian Medical Association (NMA) alongside their affiliates, stating that at a point, there were areas of departure.
He said that the NMA and a union hitherto thought to be part of JOHESU requested for compartmentalisation of the discussions, which the government granted.
The former governor of Anambra State also added that other contentious issues like the 30 percent of shift duty allowance to nurses and others, payment of outstanding allowance to intern health professionals, payment of teaching allowance to JOHESU members on CONHESS 7 and 8, and also skipping arrears, are to be expeditiously managed by the health ministry.
The minister said that the resolution of issues affecting members in the state health institutions was for the Council on Health, noting that the health ministry had been ordered to forward them accordingly.
He hinted that JOHESU would meet with the ministry tomorrow to draw up a framework for all discussions to commence.
“We will be ready to address all the issues. But we agreed that as a result of the perilous state of the economy, the principle of capacity to pay will guide all our discussions,” Ngige said.
In his words, JOHESU President, Bibielemoye Josiah, who stated that the strike was not the way forward, expressed optimism that all issues raised by the unions would be attended to by agencies of government.
Also, medical doctors have opposed equal hazard allowance with other employees in the healthcare industry.
General, Prof. Innocent Ujah, NMA President and Secretary and Dr. Philip Uche Ekpe, in a communiqué, yesterday, emphasized that doctors would not earn same hazard perks with pharmacists, nurses, medical laboratory scientists, physiotherapists and other health workers because clinical conditions and infectious diseases such as Ebola, Lassa fever and COVID 19 have killed more doctors than any other health worker.
They said the time of exposure of a medical doctor to a patient was about three times that of any other health worker, with nurses coming second in order of degree of exposure to risks as a result of their shift duty scheme.
ALSO yesterday, the Pentecostal Fellowship of Nigeria (PFN) advised the President Muhammadu Buhari administration to declare an emergency on health and education and followed it up with summits to comprehensively resolve the challenges affecting the two critical sectors.
In a communiqué by its National President, Bishop Wale Oke, the Christian body stated that the proposed events should galvanise the private sector, development partners, non-governmental organisations, labour unions, students and other interest groups to produce policy framework and legislations for immediate, long-term and lasting solutions to the problems in both sectors.
PFN condemned the government’s handling of the ongoing strike by the Nigerian Association of Resident Doctors (NARD) in the face of the COVID-19 pandemic, cholera outbreaks and other health emergencies in the country.