Following the directive from the national body of the Joint Health Staff Union of Nigeria (JOHESU) that their counterparts in the states of the federation should embark on an indefinite strike, health activities have been paralysed in Oyo State.
Health workers in the state had on Wednesday withdrew their services, leaving skeletal and emergency work to the medical doctors.
As early as 7.00 on Thursday morning, leaders of the union had chased out their colleagues out of the Oyo State General Hospital, Yemetu, Ibadan, as well as other branches, thereby forcing many patients who had come for medical attention to disperse, while many were stranded, lamenting the ugly development.
Speaking, chairman of the Medical and Health Workers Union of Nigeria, who is also a member of JOHESU both at the federal and State levels, Comrade Ademola Babalola, said that the strike was indefinite.
He added that if the federal government accedes to the demands of the federal workers, leaving “ours unattended to, the problem will still remain”.
Babalola said the union at the state and local government levels, was demanding for some welfare packages and administrative streamlining which the state government had failed to address for years.
According to him, the demand is different from the demands of JOHESU at the national level that occasioned the strike action which has run into weeks.
Among the demands at the state level, he said include “reinstatement of the 254 sacked staff of LAUTECH Teaching Hospital, Ogbomoso; payment of January/ February 2011 withheld salary of health workers in the Oyo State Health Management Board; payment of teaching allowances to other health that are yet to benefit; and employment of more health workers to strengthen the health sector”.
Babalola, however stressed that, “If the federal government and our state government can immediately accede to all these issues, we are ready to resume or suspend the strike. All other health workers are not slaves to any profession and whoever is good for the geese is also good for the gander.”
As the hospital wore a desolate look, with some medical doctors seen sitting outside their offices, the story was not different at the General Hospital, Oyo town.
Many women who had gone for ante and post-natal checks were not attended to by the nurses and other hospital workers.
Some of them were seen boarding taxis to their different destinations, disappointed.
One of them who identified herself as Mrs Olorode, a secondary school teacher, lamented, saying “For how long will this kind of situation continue for God’s sake?
“The tertiary health institutions are currently on strike and the State has now joined. The government has not attended to their demands and our leaders unfortunately will be traveling abroad for medical treatment.
“People are dying as a result of government’s insensitivity to the plight of the poor masses. We will now be forced to go to private hospitals. How many people can afford that? This is terrible. It is high time the governments at all levels accede to the demands of these workers because we are suffering for it.”