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Patients vacate federal hospitals in Lagos over workers’ strike

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Many hospitals in Lagos have turned to ghost towns as the strike embarked upon by health workers bites harder.

The industrial action has worsened patients’ challenges, following what has been described as the deteriorating working conditions of health workers, especially nurses, which have reportedly reduced the ratio of nurse to patients.

Reports say it now stands at four nurses to about 32 patients, which is a sharp drop from the World Health Organisation’s (WHO) recommendation of one nurse to, not more than four patients.

While state-owned hospitals, under the aegis of Joint Health Sector Union (JOHESU) had completed a seven-day warning strike on Wednesday, the federal health workers are still negotiating with the ministries of labour and productivity and health.

The workers have threatened to proceed on indefinite strike if their demands are not met.

Nurses at the Lagos University Teaching Hospital (LUTH) Idi-Araba, have said they will not call off the strike until their demands are met. The nurses, under the aegis of the National Association of Nigerian Nurses and Midwives (NANNM), had started an indefinite strike on June 10.

When The Guardian visited LUTH yesterday, the hospital wards were under lock and key, forcing relatives to evacuate their patients to alternative state and private hospitals.

A health assistant worker who pleaded anonymity lamented: “If there are no nurses, there can’t be doctors and hospitals,’ saying the few patients at the hospital are suffering. The beds here are very bad, no light, the taps are not working,’ adding we really need the nurses back.

“They have been our pillars and we are just managing the situation without them. We plead with the management and the government to dialogue with them so that this ugly menace would come to an end,” he said.

The LUTH nurses had downed tools in protest against poor working conditions, ranging from epileptic power supply, poor water supply, lack of consumables, non-promotion of members, non payment of allowances, among others.”

National President NANNM, Abdulrafiu Alani Adeniji, said the strike became necessary, following the deteriorating working conditions of its members.

The nurses are also protesting against the non-promotion of 71 members of their association, in the 2015 promotion exercise and non-payment of teaching allowance to nurses at LUTH.

However, the situation is different at the state-owned teaching hospitals. When The Guardian visited the Lagos State University Teaching Hospital (LASUTH) Ikeja on Thursday, resident doctors and other health workers, including nurses were seen on duty.


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