Activities at government-owned hospitals in Lagos State were on Wednesday paralysed following a five-day warning strike by medical doctors.
The Nigerian Medical Association (NMA) had on December 15 directed its members to embark on the nationwide strike.
The strike is to protest the doctors’ poor working conditions, inadequate funding, and poor infrastructure in the nation’s health sector.
Journalists, who visited the Lagos University Teaching Hospital (LUTH), Idi-Araba, the Lagos State University Teaching hospital (LASITH), Ikeja, Federal Neuro-Psychiatric Hospital, Yaba and National Orthopaedic Hospital, Igbobi, report that the strike paralysed activities at the facilities.
Consultants and resident doctors were unavailable to attend to scores of patients who thronged the hospitals.
The correspondents also said the situation was the same at the emergency units of the hospitals.
At LASUTH, some patients who were on admission appealed to the doctors to a better means of resolving their grievances with the government instead of embarking on strike.
They said that the striking doctors should consider the health conditions of the common people.
In his comment, a senior resident doctor at LUTH, Dr Peter Ogunnubi, said that a full compliance of the strike by doctors was being enforced.
He said the delay by the Federal Government in addressing the “deterioration’’ in the nation’s health sector had forced them into an industrial action. “As a result of the poor state of the nation’s health facilities, many of our doctors have been forced to leave the country and work where the condition of service is better. “The budgetary allocation of five per cent to the sector also falls short of the World Health Organisation’s standard that stipulated at least 15 per cent. “The Federal Government has allowed certain policies in the running of healthcare system, which if not checked, will lead to total collapse and paralysis of the system,” Ogunnubi said.
Ogunnubi added:“We are not leaving the patients in the lurch, but we are fighting for the good of all.”
Also, Dr Oluwajimi Sodipo, the President, Association of Resident Doctors, LASUTH Chapter, noted that there was full compliance with the NMA’s directive on the strike at the hospital.
The State NMA Chairman, Dr Francis Faduyile, believed that the strike was necessary in a bid to draw the government`s attention to their demands.
Doctors at the Ladoke Akintola University Teaching Hospital (LAUTECH), Osogbo, Osun, joined the five-day warning strike.
Mr Ayodele Adeyemo, the Public Relations Officer of the hospital, confirmed the development.
“You will see that activities in the hospital have been paralysed; we are only hoping that anytime from now there might be a resolution,” he said.
Adeyemo said the situation in the hospital was quite different from the recent action embarked on by the NMA, adding that a local strike had commenced earlier.
“The NMA strike may be described as a strike within strike for LAUTECH, the situation here is quite different.
“Doctors of the hospital have been on strike for the past one week.
“There had been some problems in the payment of salaries; as I am talking to you, workers here are yet to be paid for over two months.
“If there had not been an internal crisis as regards payment of salary, the hospital would have been bubbling with activities.
“As we all know, the funding of the hospital is by Osun and Oyo State governments.
“Resolution is still being pursued and several efforts are being made by the management toward ending the internal strike action,” he said.
At the the State Hospital, Asubiaro, skeletal activities were going on as doctors on internship were attending to patients with minor ailments.
Mrs Maryam Adeolu, who brought her baby to the hospital, appealed to the doctors to call off the strike.
“The strike will no doubt affect the masses that cannot afford treatment in private clinics,’’ she said.
In Ikole-Ekiti, Ekiti State, the strike took its toll on the state-owned General Hospital as doctors deserted the health facility.
No medical doctor was on duty at about 10.a.m.
A source said that one of the doctors sighted in the premises was there for “administrative’’ purposes.
The source, a senior staff in the hospital who pleaded for anonymity, said that medical officers in the hospital would keep attending to patients already on admission.
“The problem is that the hospital would not admit new patients pending the suspension of the strike because nurses and other medical personnel could not do the job of doctors.
“We can only manage those on admission and would refer complicated cases to the State University Teaching Hospital, Ado-Ekiti or Federal Medical Centre, Ido-Ekiti, when the need arises,’’ he stated.
A few patients on the hospital beds were being attended to by nurses while other members of staff were seen at their duty post.
Patients, who turned up at the hospital without prior knowledge of the strike, returned home disappointed.
In his reaction, Dr Olugbenga Owoeye, a Consultant Psychiatrist at the Federal Neuro-Psychiatric Hospital, Yaba, also told NAN that both consultants and resident doctors withdrew their services at the hospitals.
Another consultant at the National Orthorpaedic Hospital, who pleaded anonymity, said doctors at the hospital had also joined the strike.
Dr Osahon Enabulele, the NMA National President, however, indicated that the strike would continue until their demands were met.