Doctors protest against poor welfare at FTH Lokoja


Members of Association of Resident Doctors, ARD protesting against poor working conditions at the Federal Teaching Hospital, FTH, Lokoja on Friday

By Richard Elesho/Kogi

Members of the Association of Resident Doctors, ARD at the Federal Teaching Hospital, FTH, Lokoja, on Friday protested against poor working conditions at the medical facility.

The doctors who protested on the premises of the hospital chanted anti-establishment songs and carried placards with various inscriptions like, “Save our souls,” “We are sad,” “FG pay our arrears,” “Don’t kill us,” and “Give us call meals.” They moved around the hospital from the main gate with policemen and civil defense officers standing by to prevent a breakdown of law and order.

The Chairman of Nigeria Medical Association, NMA, Kogi chapter, Dr Olushola Baoku, who joined the protest, spoke on the concerns of the medical doctors in a brief media interaction.

“The doctors are angry and sad, and of course, in extension, NMA is sad because of the event that is actually taking place in Federal Teaching Hospital Lokoja. We have been communicated three times in the last three months concerning the burning issues.

“We have hoped that the management of the hospital would have found a middle ground in resolving all these issues. People can not be on duty for 48 hours, and there will be no food to eat. What of if they collapse? Somebody resuscitating another can collapse.

“I can’t imagine that with all the things Mr President has put in place about workers, there are some doctors that are not getting 35,000 wage award. Doctors are being casualized on a platform called GIFMIS and so many problems going on in this hospital.

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“We are also aware that FTHL which has about 500 beds that runs on over 200 doctors before, now runs 64 doctors as resident doctors.
Before these doctors will go and die one after the other or shut down the system, the federal government should quickly intervene and bring this problem to a reasonable end”.

But the hospital management said it is not unaware of some of the issues, but due process are being followed in resolving them. The Chairman Medical Advisory Committee of the facility, Dr Ebune Ojochide sued for peace, explaining that staff welfare remains a priority in the hospital.

“We have a serious shortage of manpower in the health sector across the country just because of the japa syndrome. Even as we speak, more health workers are resigning in Nigeria. It is not just here at the FTHL. But, there is an administrative process that is required for recruitment and replacement of workers.

“So, the Federal Government has put on hold, recruitment of workers including the health sector. Recently, the government considered giving a waiver to the bottle neck concerning recruitment. That is the basic challenge across the nation. An institution like FTHL can not recruit staff without approval and financial backing, which we have not been given.

“There is a process. That is what we have explained to resident doctors. The administrative process and approval have to be completed with the relevant agencies and the mandate given with the cash backing to recruit.”

Ojochide said the management was working on the call meals while urging the doctors to embrace dialogue as a conflict resolution tool instead of confrontation.

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