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JOHESU faults constitution of Buhari’s health reform team

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THE Joint Health Sector Union (JOHESU) has said the Health Reform team constituted by President Muhammadu would fail to achieve its objectives.

JOHESU President Josiah Biobelemoye said the team would fail because the president excluded many health workers’ unions that constitute JOHESU from the list.

Biobelemoye said none of the five registered unions among the groups that make JOHESU was in the team.

Speaking on AIT’s Kakaaki’s on Tuesday, the JOHESU leader accused the Federal Government of giving preferential treatment to doctors over other health professionals in the country.

However, The ICIR can confirm that three of JOHESU’s strongest unions, the National Association of Nigerian Nurses and Midwives (NANNM), the Association of Medical Laboratory Scientists of Nigeria (AMLSN), and the Pharmaceutical Society of Nigeria (PSN), are on the committee.

Of the four professional groups represented on the committee, only the Nigeria Medical Association (NMA) belongs to the doctors.

Doctors and other health practitioners in the country belong to about two dozen unions through which they pursue their welfare and professional development.

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Buhari announced the team on Monday as part of efforts to address the crises bedevilling the sector, including recurring workers strikes and huge infrastructural deficit that make services unavailable and largely unaffordable for people in the country. 

Vice President Yemi Osinbajo heads the group.

The president drew members of the committee from the workers’ unions; traditional leaders; the Federal Ministry of Health; private and public sector; healthcare management professionals; development partners; representatives from the National Assembly; the National Council on Health and the Nigeria Governors Forum.

The President of each of the associations will be part of the committee, according to the president. 

But, Biobelemoye’s JOHESU was not on the list.

Venting his anger, Biobelemoye said, “We are stakeholders. If you are forming a committee that will discuss the future of health in this country, and you don’t bring in the unions and the professional groups into tasks. I don’t know if they called others, but as far as I know, JOHESU is not part of it, neither is any of the five registered trade unions under JOHESU is part of it.

“You are talking about the professional associations. There are over 30 professional associations in the health industry. As usual, as a way of causing divide and rule in the system. That is their normal way; they picked a few. 

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“The way you could have given a broad representative is when you include the units that makeup JOHESU. There are five unions. If you include them, you would have covered all the remaining associations. Now that you have selected a few out of the lots into that body, what about the majority that you kept out?…

“The plan already has failed because they have not put into consideration who manages the workers. They are thinking; maybe, they are only going there to discuss the technical aspects of issues. What about the staff? You don’t bring them into consideration. That is the beginning of a failed system,” he said.

He also warned the government against privatizing the nation’s health system.

The ICIR reports that professional rivalry has worsened Nigeria’s poor health system.

Doctors and other health care professionals have often locked horns with one another, even while working in hospitals to the detriment of patients.

And, whenever one group makes demands from the government, the other frowns with agreements reached and simultaneously makes its own demands.

Failure of the government to accede to such demands results in a cycle of industrial actions (usually strike) by the professionals and claims of superiority over the other.

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Meanwhile, the Federal Government was expected to meet JOHESU on Tuesday over the 15-day strike notice the group issued to the government last weekend.

JOHESU said it gave the notice because the government failed to implement its agreement with the workers since 2017.

He also threatened that following alleged preferential treatment doctors enjoy with the government, “no government now and in the future should make the mistake of appointing all the ministers from all professional groups. 

“JOHESU makes up about 95 per cent of the workforce, and you (President Muhammadu Buhari) made all the ministers, the Minister of Health, the Minister of State for Health and the Minister of Labour (also a doctor) from a small enclave.”

He said the appointments promoted bias against other professionals in the sector.

He said JOHESU members were ready for the consequences of the strike they intended to embark on, should the government fail to meet their demands.

Some of the unions making up JOHESU are the Nigerian Union of Allied Health Professionals (NUAHP), the National Association of Nigeria Nurses and Midwives (NANNM), Medical and Health Workers Union (MHWUN), Nigeria Union of Allied Health Professionals, Senior Staff Association of University Teaching Hospitals Research and Associated Institutions, and Non-academic Staff Union of Educational and Associated Institutes.

The ICIR had on Monday reported how the Federal Government mocked JOHESU over its planned strike.

If you or someone you know has a lead, tip or personal experience about this report, our WhatsApp line is open and confidential for a conversation

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