ANAMBRA, Nigeria – The Medical and Dental Consultants Association of Nigeria (MDCAN) and the Association of Resident Doctors (ARD) at the Chukwuemeka Odumegwu Ojukwu University Teaching Hospital (COOUTH), Awka will embark on an indefinite strike on Nov. 30.
The Consultants and Resident Doctors at the hospital said their separate strike notices indicated they would resume their strike if their demand for implementation of Consolidated Medical Salary Scale (CONMESS) and improved working conditions were not met at the end of November.
It will be recalled that the two associations called off their strike in early July for further negotiations.
Dr Chukwudi Okani and Prof. Obiora Ejiofor, Chairman and Secretary of MDCAN respectively, said in their notice that the consultants suspended the strike on July 8 because the Anambra Government reached out to them and showed willingness to meet their demands.
They expressed worries that four months after a committee was constituted to harmonise their demands, nothing had been done to address their yearnings.
According to the association, MDCAN members have shown maturity and patience for four months in spite of being promised that the issues will be resolved in one month.
‘‘The congress found it expedient to sheathe its sword as a mark of respect and honour to the governor whom, we know, is favourably disposed to alleviating our suffering at COOUTH.
“The congress resolved to embark on an indefinite strike from midnight on Nov. 30 without further deliberations if the government fails to reciprocate the trust and confidence the MDCAN has in her.
“This is if the government delays to sign, implement and commence payment of the agreed salaries before Nov. 30,” MDCAN said.
The Resident Doctors in their notice signed by Dr Obinna Aniagboso and Dr Chidi Egolum, said the challenges in the hospital were hampering the quality of service delivery.
They said government should honour its promise which made them go back to their duty posts four months ago.
According to them, they wish to remind the government of the conditions that led to the suspension of the industrial action and also make a solemn appeal to meet our demand
“Although, you asked for one month interval, we have generously granted more than three months in order to ensure that no stone is not left unturned towards addressing our severe challenges, including funding of hospital, promotion, CONMESS and clearance of accrued arrears.
“ARD leadership has employed every known tactic to hold on our increasingly agitated members who have been left in suspense and grievance over government’s delay to respond.
“Government should reciprocate our good gesture by graciously doing the needful and the expected by this November in order to sustain our delicate industrial harmony and avert unnecessary reversion to further industrial action,” the ARD said.
Mr Ephraim Okoye, a resident of Awka, has appealed to both the government and the doctors to find a middle ground in the impasse and avert a possible breakdown of health service delivery in Anambra which would come with huge consequences.
Okoye said the reasons for industrial upheaval at the teaching hospital should be addressed sustainably by the parties so that healthcare services and training of doctors going on there could continue.
“The threatened strike by consultants and doctors if allowed will lead to serious health crisis for the common man, remember that some of these doctors are in private practice, so they won’t really feel the impact.
“I want to appeal to the government to address their agitation and also the doctors to consider the public that is at the heart of their calling, we need quality and affordable services at Amaku,” he said.
When contacted, Prof. Solo Chukwulobelu, said the government was on top of the situation and would not allow a problem to come before tackling it.
Chukwulobelu said: “Why not wait for the time to elapse, you will know the position of government in due time.
“Efforts are on to resolve the impasse, the state is not sitting down waiting for Nov. 30 for crisis to erupt,“ he said.