7th January, 2022
By Oluwafunke Ishola
National Association of Nigeria Nurses and Midwives (NANNM) has said its members its members in Lagos will begin a three-day warning strike from Jan. 10.
Chairman, NANNM, Lagos Council, Mr Olurotimi Awojide, made this known at a news conference on Friday in Lagos.
He said that the warning strike was to protest poor remuneration and working conditions in the Lagos health sector.
Awojide said that the strike was also to send a clear message to stakeholders that nurses would no longer continue to provide care in a manner where their health and safety, and those of their patients were at risk.
“Nurses will no longer bear the burden of a poorly- resourced health care system.
“We implore the public to see this strike as a struggle for improved care for them and also as a fight to ensure that the healthcare sector is in a better position to serve them.
“All the requests we have made from the state government are to ensure that more nurses are not driven into frustration that can lead them to leaving the service,’’ he said.
According to him, the association’s state executive council meeting, held on Dec. 29, 2021, assessed the numerous challenges of nurses and all unresolved issues before the government.
“The association has engaged the government on several occasions on these issues without the desired pace of outcome.
“In our estimation, the state government has yet to fully come to terms with how incredibly-challenging the situation in the health sector has been for our members, especially since 2020,’’ he said.
Awojide noted that the continued attrition of nurses to foreign countries had led to an acute shortage in the staffing of health facilities.
According to him, 496 nurses left the service of the State Health Service Commission from 2019 to 2021, with less than 15 per cent arising from statutory retirement.
“For context, the commission has only about 2,350 nurses.
“More than 200 nurses left the service of Lagos State University Teaching Hospital within the same period.
“Over 80 have left the Primary Healthcare Board from 2020 till date, thus leaving the healthcare with 700 nurses and midwives,’’ he said.
Awojide noted that the state government’s replacement-on-exit policy had been rendered ineffective by the inability to easily find replacements, adding that nurses were critical assets.
“Out of the 500 vacancies approved for recruitment by the governor for the health service commission recently, less than 300 applied, especially in a country with a 33.2 per cent unemployment rate,’’ he said.
The NANNM chairman noted that the mass exodus had adversely affected the quality of care, thus leading to increase in the workload and functional flexibility requirement on nurses without compensation.
According to him, members are falling sick and developing chronic illnesses.
“A reduced capacity in the health workforce means a reduced capacity to contain and fight new waves of pandemics and outbreaks.
“A poor retention rate only guarantees paralytic responses to new waves of pandemics within the foreseeable future,’’ he said.
Awojide noted that the association’s requests to the state government included: resolving shortage of nurses and midwives and retention of incentives to arrest the turnover rate.
Others, he said, were proper consolidation of CONHESS Salary Structure and improved working conditions.