Health Workers in Lagos State, under the aegis of Joint Health Sector Unions (JOHESU), has called on the state government to improve their welfare packages and provide conducive environment to operate.
Its Chairman, Mr Olatunji Tajudeen, made the call at a joint congress on Friday in Lagos.
Tajudeen said the state government needed to improve their welfare, adding that the number of health workers travelling abroad for greener pastures were increasing daily.
“To discourage the idea of our colleagues travelling outside the country, government needs to make the healthcare system conducive in Lagos State, improve remunerations, and give tax rebate, as being done in other country.
“The state government should concentrate more energy on the health sector so that people will not be travelling outside the country for treatment all the time.
“Both Federal and State Government hospitals should be fully equipped with tools and personal protective materials; we noticed that Nigerian health professionals abroad are doing well due to good healthcare system,” he said.
Tajudeen added that all health workers were coming together to present their common issues or problems in the health sector, and not fighting the medical doctors because they are our colleagues.
“What we are demanding for is equity in terms of welfare, number of staffs and even, salary.
“We noticed that the disparity is becoming wider everyday; the doctors just finished their warning strike and we are not just waking to demand for our needs.
“Initially, all health workers, including doctors, planned to come together so that Lagos State Government will pay more attention to the health sector.
“No Nigerian will say health workers are not performing well, especially during this COVID-19 pandemic, but if government want us to do more, they need to encourage us,” he said.
According to Tajudeen, we have lost some health workers to COVID-19 pandemic, and we do not know if there is adequate insurance for their families.
“We are asking Lagos State Government to implement our outstanding demands since 2018.
“In 2018, some of our demands were implemented during the strike, but shortly after, we suspended the strike, and government withdrew implementing other demands.
“Some of the demands include: adjustment of the consolidated health salary structure, employment of additional health professionals and others.
“Government needs to implement our 2018 demands first before we roll out other fresh issues we are facing now, such as personal protective materials,
accommodation and so on,” he said.
Tajudeen said that the recent mass recruitment for health workers by the state government would not take care of our members.
“We learnt they want to employ 760 health workers, in which 400 slots are for doctors and the remaining 360 for the other health workers, which is too small.
“I urge government to increase the recruitment figure, because we all lacked health professionals.
“In this COVID-19 era, we are asking for proper personal protective materials, task rebate, hazard allowances and comprehensive insurance policy.
“Other health workers should also be given accommodation, because when the pandemic started government had to lodge our health workers into hotels,” he said.
Also, Mr Rasak Falade, Chairman, Medical and Health Workers Union of Nigeria, Lagos chapter, said that before COVID-19 started, they had been engaging the state government to address some of the health workers issues.
Falade said they had written formal letter to the state government with respect to issues of our members’ welfare, because “we are looking for the way forward and what next to do”.
He said: “A lot of health workers, within the state public health sector, are suffering, particularly during this COVID-19 era.
“We are giving the Lagos State Government another three weeks ultimatum, after which JOHESU will no longer be able to guarantee industrial peace and harmony in the Lagos public health sector.”
Contributing, Mrs Blessing Israel, the Chairman, National Association of Nigeria Nurses and Midwives (NANNM), Lagos Chapter, said that health insurance policy was very important to their members, saying that they lost members to COVID-19.
Israel said that lot of nurses were moving out of the country, because the welfare packages and remunerations in the country, were not encouraging.
“Government needs to encourage all health workers because we are all important in the nation’s healthcare sector.
“Even, our environment are not conducive for us; many of our members live far away from their assigned workplace which stresses them.
“Government needs to provide accommodation quarters for us, because nurses are the backbone of the health sector, we are always with the patients 24 hours.
“If government is providing quarters for the doctors, they should be ready to provide quarters for other categories of health workers,” she said.
According to her, currently, nurses working in the isolation centres are now coming from their various houses, which means they can expose their families and community to COVID-19.
“We will not allow that, because nurses should be cared for and remain in the hotel rooms provided by the government.
“We will not be left with the option of withdrawing our services; if they continue to give care at their own expenses,” Israel said.
Edited By: Olagoke Olatoye (NAN)https://nnn.ng/health-workers-in-lagos-state-call-for-improved-welfare-packages/