By Adedapo Adesanya
The Joint Health Sector Unions (JOHESU) and the Assembly of Healthcare Professional Association have issued a fresh 15-day ultimatum to the federal government, vowing to commence an indefinite strike over outstanding welfare issues.
In a letter addressed to the Minister of Labour and Employment, Mr Chris Ngige, and other relevant stakeholders on Saturday in Abuja, the National President of the union, Mr Biobelemonye Josiah, said the ultimatum was necessitated by the nonchalant attitude of the government to the plight of its members.
According to Mr Josiah, the welfare issues include adjustment of Consolidated Health Salary Structure (CONHES) as was done with Consolidated Medical Salary Structure (CONMESS) since 2014, payment of all withheld April and May 2018 Salaries of our members and withheld Salaries in Federal Medical Center, Owerri, JUTH and LUTH review of the defective implementation of COVID-19 Special Inducement and Hazard Allowance.
It added that other demands include – the implementation of the National Industrial Court of Nigeria (NICN) Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR), Consent judgment and other court judgments, increase in the retirement age from 60 to 65 years for health workers and 70 years for Consultant Health Professionals.
”Others are payment of reviewed hazard allowance in terms of payment that guarantee fairness and justice to all concerned, payment of actual 30 per cent consolidated basic shift duty allowance to Nurses/Midwives and others.
”Payment of teaching allowance to members on CONHESS 7 and 8 (Nurses, Midwives and others) and proper placement of Nurse Graduates and Interns,” he said.
The JOHESU president also said others include payment of outstanding salaries of intern health professionals and all the Tertiary Health Institutions, proper implementation of the consultant pharmacist cadre for pharmacists in the public sector, among others.
According to him, “you will recall that up till the time of writing this letter, the Federal Government has not deemed it fit to honour the Terms of Settlement entered into with JOHESU since September 2017.
”This is especially the upward review of CONHESS Salary Structure as agreed, to be completed within five weeks from the date of agreement amongst other requests.
”Government did not deem it fit to address these key issues during the duration of the last seven days warning strike and has only met with JOHESU on July 12.”
Mr Josiah said that it would also be recalled that on July 2020, that the Minister of Health agreed that a mistake was made by the government in the payment of COVID-19 Special Inducement and Hazard Allowances.
He noted that the shortfall was in the payment of 50 per cent Basic of Consolidated allowances to all those Health Workers.
He disclosed that it was a mistake on the part of the government and the shortfall shall be paid according to affected health workers.
He added that up till the time of the letter, the shortfall has not been paid. To make matters worse, when the payment for June 2020 was made, the government decided to again wrongfully pay 10 per cent of Consolidated Basic Allowances to our members affected by the shortfall of April and May 2020.
“This is in contravention of the spirit and content of the MoU signed on April 21, 2020.
”JOHESU, in compliance with the provision of Section 41 of the Trade Disputes Act Cap.T8 LFN 2004, is constrained to give the federal government of Nigeria 15 days ultimatum with effect from September 3.
”This also is to inform you that with effect from midnight of September 17, all our members in the Federal Health Institutions shall embark on indefinite strike action in all state and Local Government health institutions.
”You are all placed on red alert for the strike if the federal government foot drags in attending to our demands,” he said.
Mr Josiah, however, noted that JOHESU had shown maturity, selflessness and patriotism in the face of extreme provocations and the government’s nonchalant attitude on the welfare of its members.
Medic West Africa Conference to Focus on Healthcare Innovation
By Adedapo Adesanya
Medic West Africa Exhibition and Conference, the biggest gathering of healthcare trade professionals in the West African region, will be making a long-awaited in-person return to the Landmark Centre in Lagos, Nigeria from September 7-9, 2022.
Organised by Informa Markets, the 9th edition of the show will bring together healthcare equipment manufacturers, distributors, procurement professionals, dealers, medical practitioners, and regulators.
More than 5,000 healthcare professionals are expected to attend, with 150 exhibitors representing 32 countries taking part. Addressing post-pandemic market needs, the event will furthermore see the addition of a dedicated space for laboratory professionals for the first time, called “Medlab Area”.
Speaking on this, Amogh Wadwalkar, Exhibition Manager, Medic West Africa, said: “Medic West Africa is the premier healthcare exhibition and conference platform showcasing global healthcare technologies and innovations in support of healthcare solutions in Nigeria and West Africa.
“We look forward to connecting all parties in the healthcare ecosystem as the one-stop shop for all healthcare sourcing and procurement needs in the region, and to unveil the latest innovations in healthcare technology – needed for the urgent transformation of our health infrastructures.”
Among the scheduled exhibitors are leading local and international industry players such as GE Healthcare West Africa, Siemens Healthineers, DCL Laboratories, Erba Manheim, Alpha Specialties, Qiagen, Abbott, and Standard Electro Medical Equipment Company (SEMED).
Products and services on display will include state-of-the-art imaging equipment, laboratory and IVD technology, developments in surgery, advances in prosthetics, and cost-effective disposables, among many others.
In addition, Medic West Africa is set to play host to several interactive sessions, leveraging the expertise of key players in the industry on topical issues for the advancement of the healthcare industry.
According to Cynthia Makarutse, Senior Conference Producer, Medic West Africa, “In collaboration with Nigerian healthcare societies, Medic West Africa conferences will promote dialogue on key stakeholder issues for the advancement of the industry. We connect government stakeholders with leading commercial entities to deliver solutions to topical issues and challenges facing healthcare professionals in West Africa.
“The conference will focus on key post-pandemic outcomes such as innovation and disruption, health equity, and workforce resilience. It is the pre-eminent event for healthcare professionals who value the power of knowledge-sharing, networking, and business”.
Key discussions will occur in the following planned conferences: Healthcare Leadership Conference – Leveraging disruption in healthcare – opportunities & challenges in technology, in partnership with the Healthcare Federation of Nigeria;
Quality Management Conference — Human Resource for Healthcare: Building an efficient and resilient workforce, in partnership with the Society for Quality in Healthcare in Nigeria.
Others include Healthcare Business Conference – Consumer-Driven Healthcare Innovations (CDHIs) – Data, Devices and Digital Health Solutions, in partnership with Healthcare Leadership Academy, and Access to Healthcare Conference – COVID – A socioeconomic phenomenon, in partnership with Bey Health.
Attendance at the Medic West Africa trade exhibition is free for healthcare and trade professionals and interested candidates can visit www.medicwestafrica.com.
WHO, Edo Intensify Response to Combat Monkeypox
By Adedapo Adesanya
The World Health Organisation (WHO) and the Edo State government have intensified a coordinated response to contain the spread of the Monkeypox disease.
So far, Nigeria has reported 357 suspected cases with 133 confirmed monkeypox cases from 25 states – Lagos, Adamawa, Delta, Rivers, Edo, Bayelsa, Nasarawa Plateau FCT, Ondo, Anambra Cross River, Kwara, Borno, Taraba, Oyo, Imo, Kano, Katsina, Gombe, Niger Ogun, Kogi, Bauchi, Akwa Ibom and Abia.
Meanwhile, eight persons have so far tested positive for monkeypox in Edo state, and all the people diagnosed with the disease have recovered.
The Director, Public Health, Edo State Ministry of Health, Dr Ojeifo Stephenson, said it has become imperative to warn the residents of the state about the health risks that the virus poses and reiterate the need to be cautious and adhere to preventive measures.
He said the state Ministry of Health with support from the World Health Organization (WHO) and partners, has ramped up surveillance, diagnostics and other activities to curb the spread of infectious diseases.
“We have stepped up surveillance including prompt investigation of suspected cases, facilitating documentation of contacts, contact tracing and monitoring, as well as developed and disseminated public health advisory to raise awareness about the disease among residents of the state,” he said.
Additionally, Dr Benson Okwara, who works at UBTH, said WHO has been an invaluable partner in the response to monkeypox diagnosis and treatment in the facility.
Dr Okwara has five years of experience in managing patients with monkeypox.
He lamented that the disease spreads within the communities because of the poor health-seeking behaviour and late presentation of the case to the hospital.
“However, with WHO’s coordination, there is an early response following notification of suspected/confirmed cases with detailed case investigations using the monkeypox case investigation form (CIF) to collect data on patient contacts.
“There is a need for continuous risk messaging to educate people about infectious diseases and the importance of seeking medical care early and at appropriate health facilities to prevent the spread of diseases,” he said.
Across Nigeria, the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC), supported by WHO, has activated Monkeypox Emergency Operations Centre to strengthen in-country preparedness and contribute to the global response to the outbreak.
Furthermore, WHO is supporting the coordination of technical assistance and operational support of partners, including the national One-health risk surveillance and information sharing (NOHRSIS) group, to facilitate timely information exchange on all prioritized zoonotic diseases.
Monkeypox is a zoonotic disease endemic in Nigeria and some parts of Africa.
However, there has been sporadic spread to other countries as more than 16,000 cases of monkeypox have been reported across more than 70 countries so far this year, and the number of confirmed infections rose 77 per cent from late June through early July.
The virus is being transmitted from animals to humans.
Recently, WHO activated its highest alert level for the growing monkeypox outbreak, declaring the virus a public health emergency of international concern.
WHO to Help Nigeria Achieve NHIA Act 2022 Objectives
By Adedapo Adesanya
The World Health Organization (WHO) has expressed its desire to support Nigeria in operationalising the National Health Insurance Authority (NHIA) Act 2022 signed by President Muhammadu Buhari in May 2022.
WHO’s Country Representative (WR), Dr Walter Kazadi Mulombo, made this pledge during a high-level meeting with the Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF), Mr Boss Mustapha, the Director General, National Health Insurance Authority (NHIA), Professor Mohammed Sambo, and a team of WHO Health Financing Mission delegates from the WHO Geneva, Africa Regional Office, and Nigeria.
The first ever high-level WHO Health Financing Mission to Nigeria, led by Dr Joseph Kutzin, was scheduled to provide sustainable health financing support to the country towards Universal Health Coverage (UHC) and health security while undertaking targeted advocacy to accelerate operationalization of the NHIA Act including the Vulnerable Group Fund (VGF).
This is in line with WHO’s goal of ensuring that all individuals and communities receive the quality health services they need without suffering financial hardship.
Dr Mulombo said President Buhari’s signing of the NHIA Bill into law will make health insurance mandatory for all legal residents in Nigeria and expands coverage to over 83 million poor and vulnerable people.
He expressed the optimism that government will prioritize immediate appropriation of the Special Intervention Fund in the Act to establish the Vulnerable Group Fund.
“Indeed, the task of ensuring that all citizens have access to the quality healthcare they need without falling into poverty is a deliberate political decision to achieve the cardinal objectives of population coverage, service coverage, and financial protection. I have no doubts that in a large federal nation like Nigeria, this milestone of appropriating the Special Intervention Fund will be achieved in the 2023 fiscal year”, he said.
In his remarks, Mr Mustapha appreciated WHO as the foremost development partner to Nigeria on health and lauded WHO’s invaluable guidance, particularly on the COVID-19 pandemic.
“WHO has demonstrated that it is an organization that cares for and caters for the health needs of the people. On the NHIA, let me commend the DG for his tenacity and determination to have this Act come to fruition. I want to thank WHO and other partners who supported in the drafting of the Bill. This modest attempt has provided basic health insurance coverage to the vulnerable, and making it mandatory will go a long way in assisting our people to manage their income and remain at work in terms of the depressed economy we are witnessing”.
The SGF further expressed the government’s commitment to appropriate the Special Intervention Fund (SIF) in the 2023 national budget for the establishment of the Vulnerable Group Fund (VGF).
“No family in Nigeria has economically survived catering for any of their own suffering from cancer. The health of our people is therefore topmost on our priorities despite competing demands”, he stated.
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