Doctors, Nurses Embark on Strike in Ondo

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James Sowole in Akure

Resident Doctors at University of Medical Sciences Teaching Hospital Complexes (UNIMEDTHC) in Akure and nurses under the National Association of Nigeria Nurses and Midwives, yesterday embarked on an indefinite strike from today (June 24) to protest the alleged uncaring attitude of the Ondo State Government.

The health workers accused the state government of being insensitive to their welfare and non-payment of salaries and non-provision of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE).

The strike was announced to journalists during a news conference that was held at the hospital complex in Akure.

The leader of the Association of Resident Doctors of UNIMEDTHC, Dr. Taiwo Olagbe, disclosed that they have been frustrated by the management and state government who have failed to pay their salaries.

Olagbe alleged that 49 of their members were owed September, October and November 2019 salaries while they were only paid nine months salaries in January.

All of them were owed March to May salaries.

The angry doctors said the state government should enlist them in central pay system pending the financial autonomy of the hospital.

He alleged that their members working at the Infectious Diseases Hospital (IDH) and Isolation Centres, had no PPE and disclosed that one of their members had been infected with COVID-19 pandemic disease.

The doctors lamented that it has become a recurrent situation for them to go on protest before they would be paid their salaries.

It was also alleged that a number of the doctors in the teaching hospital had dumped the hospital for better appointment elsewhere due to irregular payment of salaries at UNIMEDTHC.

The doctors wondered why the hospital could not generating enough revenue to cover its 30 per cent contribution of the staff monthly salaries while the state government takes care of 70 per cent of their monthly wages.

They, however, vowed not to return to work until all the outstanding salaries were paid and strong arrangement put in place to ensure the regular payment of their salaries like other medical workers in other health facilities in the state.

Nurses working at the Mother and Child Hospital also protested that they were being exposed to danger due to the failure of the state government to do contact-tracing of all medical workers who had contracted COVID-19 among them.

The nurses, therefore, gave the state government a 48-hour ultimatum to embark on contact-tracing of those who had tested positive for the pandemic or they down tool.

In a similar development, National Association of Government General Medical and Dental Practitioners (NAGGMDP), Ondo State, in a communique signed by its Secretary, Dr. Olasakinju Tunde, after their meeting on Monday, said the state government has deliberately failed to conclude negotiations on the erstwhile suspended Minimum Wage & Consequential Adjustments already being enjoyed by the non-medical staff since January 2020.

They expressed shock that 2.5 percent of the “members’ meager consolidated basic salaries was deducted in the month of May 2020.

The medical workers also complained that six of their members have been infected with COVID-19 and on admission at the Infectious Disease Hospital, IDH “due to inadequate supply of PPE.”

Efforts to get the reaction of the Commissioner for Health, Dr. Wahab Adegbenro, were unsuccessful as he did not answer calls put to him.