Health sector crisis deepens as doctors oppose JOHESU’s equal pay demand

The Nigerian Medical Association (NMA) has threatened to go on strike if a key demand of the striking health workers under the Joint Health Sector Union (JOHESU) is met.

The health workers are asking, among other things, to be at par with doctors in terms of salary — which the NMA said is “callous and ill-motivated”.

The JOHESU strike, which has been ongoing since April 17, has seen patients stranded at federal health institutions across the country, with state and local government health workers also recently joining the industrial action.

NMA said on Thursday that acceding to the demand of salary parity with their counterparts in the health union will be against the agreement they had with the federal government which led to the suspension of their strike action in 2014.

A statement issued by Francis Faduyile, NMA national president, said: “The NMA wishes to draw the attention of the federal government to our correspondence of April 21, 2014 on the above, in which we reminded government of the collective bargaining agreement we had with the federal government of Nigeria in January 2014.

“It is also pertinent to once again remind government about the concluding part of our letter no. NMA/PRE/SG/03/0751 of 21st March 2014, which states, ‘In view of the above, the NMA painfully wishes to inform the federal government of Nigeria that any award to the non-medically qualified health professionals that violates the January and July agreements of 2014 shall result in the resumption of the suspended withdrawal of service of 2014. Please take this as a notice sir.”

NMA said it opposes “vehemently” any adjustment that will lead to pay parity between doctors and healthcare professionals as well as JOHESU’s demand for professional autonomy which it said is “part of the fight for professional ego”.

The association said: “Rather than accede to a demand that will lead to more preventable deaths, we urge the federal government to implement the recommendations of the Yayale Ahmed Committee on professional harmony in the health sector.”

The federal government had earlier rejected the health workers’ demand to be at par with the doctors in terms of salary, saying it is not practicable.