NMA alleges attack by health workers over strike
• Abuja hospitals engage ad-hoc staff
DOCTORS in the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), Abuja have alleged ‘violent assault,’ ‘physical harassment,’ and ‘threats to their lives at their duty posts in public health facilities in Abuja.
The doctors, who spoke under the umbrella of the Nigerian Medical Association (NMA), FCT Chapter, alleged that the attacks were carried out by the Joint Health sector Unions (JOHESU) and called on the Police, the Department of State Security Services (DSS) and all relevant authorities to investigate the issue and bring the culprits to book.
The association says it is worried that if not checked, the matter could worsen into what it termed “full scale insurgency in the health sector.” NMA said the affected hospitals had already filed reports with the Police.
When pressed for reaction to the allegations, officials of JOHESU said they would issue a comprehensive response after a meeting of the executive committee of the Association today.
Also, the Chief Medical Director of National Hospital Abuja, Jaf Momoh, has called on the member of the JOHESU to suspend their on-going strike in the interest of the nation.
Momoh told journalists in Abuja, yesterday: “The ongoing strike has guiding principles, such as stay at home, no travels, no work-no-pay. In case of JOHESU however, they have tried to disrupt the services rendered even by those not on strike.
“At the National Hospital, we have ensured that adequate security is provided to enable doctors and other staffs on duty render un-interrupted clinical services.”
He called for the suspension of the strike action, noting that stressed that negotiation between government and the striking health workers was on.
He said: “Negotiations have been on-going between government and JOHESU executives since the beginning of this strike, with a view to addressing all the issues at stake. The negotiations will continue even when the strike is called off.
“The Presidential Committee headed by Alhaji Yayale Ahmed to look into the issues causing disharmony and conflict in the health sector has submitted its report and a committee has been constituted to produce a White Paper for appropriate implementation of the recommendations of the presidential committee.
Chairman of the NMA FCT Chapter at a different briefing, stressed the need to safeguard the lives of doctors who were offering essential health services while the JOHESU strike lasts.
On the alleged threat to lives of doctors, she explained: “On Wednesday, January 21, 2015, in a bizarre act of aggression, members of JOHESU allegedly invaded the premises of General Hospital brandishing dangerous weapons and unleashed terror on all personnel who had kept the hospital functioning, including medical doctors. While many ran for their dear lives, a very senior medical doctor was terribly manhandled.
The attackers broke down the entrance to the main block and that of the laboratory and allegedly shot canisters of tear gas within the hospital, causing severe respiratory distress to members of staff and defenceless patients, including premature babies. The senior medical doctor, an asthmatic, nearly lost her life to the incident.
“On Thursday, January 22, 2015, members of JOHESU allegedly invaded the National Hospital Abuja, intimated, harassed, drove out all personnel working in the various units of the hospitals and locked up some departments in the hospital. They went about their actions with impunity and ransacked the entire hospital driving away recently employed health workers.
“On Monday, January 26, 2015, members of JOHESU invaded the Research Laboratory in the University of Abuja Teaching Hospital, Gwagwalada where they harassed and physically assaulted a Consultant Pathologist and his Research Assistants.”