Activities in teaching hospitals were yesterday paralysed across the country as health workers embarked on a nationwide strike.
Admission of patients, medical treatments and surgeries were consequently suspended at the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) National Hospital, Abuja, the Aminu Kano Teaching Hospital (AKTH), Kano and Nnamdi Azikiwe University Teaching Hospital (NAUTH) Nnewi, Anambra State.
The Chief Medical Director (CMD) of NAUTH, Professor Anthony Igwegbe, urged the workers to provide skeletal services in the interest of humanity, but his entreaties were ignored.
The Joint Health Sector Union (JOHESU) had embarked on indefinite strike action to demand the implementation of agreements with the Federal Government, which bother on improved welfare and working conditions of members.
Also, resident doctors at the hospitals insisted that they were making necessary effort to ensure that patients were adequately cared for, in spite of the ongoing strike.
However, the development crippled virtually all the services as admission of fresh patients were suspended while those receiving treatment in the wards were being discharged.
The hospitals also shut down dialysis services at their Hemodialysis Centres, a development that dashed the hope of patients in need of medical treatment.
Patients who had already booked for surgery appointment would now suffer needless delay, as the hospital suspended further operations.
When The Guardian visited the post-natal ward at AKTH, a senior nursing officer was found caring for no fewer than 30 nursing mothers, a service meant for at least seven nurses.
The situation at the specialty clinics for sickle cell and anti-natal units was not different, as patients had no nurses to attend to them except a doctor who struggled to juggle different tasks.
Faith Anita, whose pregnancy has reached Expectant Delivery Date (EDD), expressed concern over the industrial action, saying the strike would be dangerous if it continues. She told The Guardian that there was no nurse on duty to give advice, adding that she was asked to seek an alternative for her delivery.
A sickle cell patient, Beatris Auja, pleaded with the Federal Government dialogue with the striking health workers and look into their demands to save the patients.
“The situation is so terrible and this is the only place we see doctors and nurses but we can’t because of the strike. We are begging the government to meet the demands of the health workers. We don’t have money to patronize private hospitals,” she said.
Jibril Yakubu, who spoke with The Guardian on his sick bed, also appealed to the health workers to consider the plight of the patients.
Responding, President of the Resident Doctors, Abdulrasheed Ahmad said the strike did not affect the services of medical doctors, insisting that the doctors would continue to render services within the scope of their responsibilities.