JOHESU stages protest to National Assembly
Urges Buhari to immediately implement Technical Committee Report on adjustment CONHESS
The Joint Health Sector Unions/Assembly of Healthcare Professional Associations JOHESU has staged a protest at National Assembly to draw the attention of the lawmakers to what it tagged “the unending vicious cycle of tyranny vested against members of an affiliate of the Joint Health Sector Unions members of the respective af (JOHESU) in the health sector by the Physicians dominated and oriented Federal Ministry of Health”.
The Union called on President Muhammadu Buhari to immediately approve and implement the Technical Committee Report on the adjustment of the Consolidated Health Salary Structure (CONHESS).
The union also urged the incoming lawmakers to facilitate the appointment of seasoned Administrators and Managers of cognate experience as Ministers in charge of the Health Sector in the incoming administration.
Speaking during the protest which was held at the National Assembly yesterday in Abuja, Vice Chairman of JOHESU, Dr Ogbonna Chimela criticized the continuous appointment of Physicians as Ministers and Chief executive Officers of the Ministry and parastatals in the Health Sector.
Chimela lamented that the last three successively Physician Health Ministers in the last twelve (12) years that is; Prof. C Chukwu (2011-2015), Prof. Isaac Adewole (2015-2019), and the present Minister Dr Ehanire Osagie (2019-Date) have deliberately truncated the adjustment of CONHESS on four (4) occasions since January 2, 2014 (nine and a half years ago) when the first adjustment of CONMESS for Physicians took place and subsequently in 2017, 2018 and now May 2023.
He noted that this social injustice and discriminatory adjustment championed by the Federal Ministry of Health in favour of the Physicians and to the great disadvantage of other health workers lead to a Trade Dispute declared by the Joint Health Sector Unions (JOHESU) in September 2021 adding that this dispute was however apprehended by the Chief Conciliator of the Federation and Minister of Labour, Senator Dr Chris Ngige at a conciliatory meeting held on 7 September 2021 at the Conference Room of the Federal Ministry of Labour and Employment.
He said, “During the conciliatory meeting attended by the Minister of Health Dr. Ehanire Osagie and the then Minister of State for Health, Senator Olorunnibe Mamora with other top Federal Government Officials from Ministries and Inter-Ministerial Departments and Agencies with the National Leadership of the Joint Health Sector Unions (JOHESU), the meeting resolved that, all matters in dispute be referred back for negotiation at the Federal Ministry of Health”
“Upon resumption of negotiation at the Federal Ministry of Health at a meeting held on 19″ September 2021, the FG and JOHESU team agreed to the setting up of a High-Level Inter-Ministerial Committee to determine the justification for the adjustment of CONHESS, work out a detailed financial implication and make appropriate recommendations. The Committee was chaired by the Chairman, the National Salaries, Incomes and Wages Commission (NSIWC), Mr. and membership drawn from the Office of the Head of Service of the Federation, Federal Ministry of Health, Federal Ministry of Labour and Employment, Budget Office, National Salaries, Incomes and Wages Commission, Office of the Accountant General of the Federation, and Joint Health Sector Unions (JOIIESU). The Technical Committee Report had since been submitted to the Federal Ministry of Health for onward transmission to the Federal Executive Council. ‘That the Ministry has refused to do since over a year”.
According to Chimela, “The militating bane in the spread of benefit packages is the domineering influence of Physicians in the Ministry Departments and Agencies (MDAs); from the Federal Ministry of Health to agencies like the National Health Insurance Authority (NHIA), National Agency for the Control of Aids (NACA), National Primary Healthcare Development Agency (NPHCDA) and others where the Physician-CEOs have skewed privileges as well as other benefit packages in the direction of their Physician brethren”.
We are compelled to embark on this for the sake of clarity, we shall. highlight the major issues such as the wage and benefits of non-physician health professionals and workers, negation of Consultant cadre for non-physician [fealth Professionals in Federal Health Institutions (FHIs), outstanding payment of allowances to health workers, the mode of payment of all health workers in Nigeria is Consolidated Health Salary Structure (CONHESS) while Physicians are on the Consolidated Medical Salary Structure (CONMESS). As of 2009, the Memorandum of Understanding at the inception of these two salary structures and subsequently and the collective bargaining agreement between the Federal Government and the Joint Health Sector Unions (JOHESU) established strongly that once there is an adjustment in any of the salary structure, the other structure should be adjusted commensurately.
“Today, the MDAs in the Health Sector are rated the most corrupt with all the attendant incompetences and poor output. In one of the most bizarre developments in contemporary times, the Physician dominated Federal Ministry of Health negated the Consultant Cadre status of Pharmacists which has met all components of due process as far back as 2011 when the National Council on Establishment (NCE) approved the status. In 2020 and 2021, both the Office of the Head of Civil Service of the Federation and the Federal Ministry of Health conclusively issued circulars to back up the NCE approval. The incumbent Health Minister, Dr Ehanire Osagie sabotaged the implementation of this cadre as it has not taken root in the Federal Health Institutions (FHIs). Even at the state level, Niger State Government has been implementing this cadre for Pharmacists since 2014, while other less endowed States like Osun and Edo States are already implementing it.
At the University College Hospital (UCH) Ibadan, other Health Professionals recognised as rendering consultant-related jobs were abruptly terminated at the prompting of the Federal Ministry of Health. The Physicians-CEOs in the Federal Health Institutions (FHIs) continue to jeopardise the legitimate allowance of health workers in various centres. These allowances include amongst others; outstanding promotion, skipping, uniform, COVID-19 Inducement as well as withheld salaries in JUV, LUTH, FMC, Owerri and NOSIF, Azare”, he added.