A PRESSS BRIEFING BY THE NIGERIAN UNION OF ALLIED HEALTH PROFESSIONALS (NUAHP) DELIVERED BY COMRADE FELIX FANIRAN, MSc, FNSP, DIRECTOR OF PHYSIOTHERAPY AND MEDICAL REHABILITATION AND CONSULTANT NEURO COMMUNITY PHYSIOTHERAPY, THE NATIONAL PRESIDENT, NIGERIAN UNION OF ALLIED HEALTH PROFESSIONALS (NUAHP) AT UNIVERSITY COLLEGE HOSPITAL (UCH), IBADAN (ON THE 8TH OF JANUARY 2015) ON THE ON-GOING STRIKE BY NUAHP AND JOHESU FROM 16TH OCTOBER AND 12TH NOVEMBER 2014 RESPECTIVELY TILL DATE.
1. Greetings and Introduction
We welcome you to this press briefing to give you;
a. up-date on the strike embarked upon by our Union, Nigerian Union of Allied Health Professionals (NUAHP) and Joint Health Sector Unions (JOHESU) since 16th October 2014 and 12th November 2014 respectively till date
b. To comment on the recently signed National Health Act as well as the Yayale Ahmed Committee report submitted to Mr. President.
c. The state of the nation.
2. Why the strike still lingers
Please recall that NUAHP rising from her National Executive Council (NEC) meeting of August 30th, 2014 at Asokoro District Hospital, Abuja and a subsequent National Administrative Council (NAC) meeting of 13th October, 2014, the leadership of this Union was forced to declare an indefinite nationwide strike on some demands. These demands are:
i. Adjustment of CONHESS salary as done for the NMA in the same sector.
ii. Payment of Arrears on skipping of CONHESS 10 since year 2010.
iii. Promotion of our members from CONHESS 14 to 15 for over ten years.
iv. Appointment of our members as Chief Medical Directors.
v. Abolition of the post of Deputy Chairman, Medical Advisory Committee.
vi. Immediate circularization of retirement age of Healthcare workers from 60 to 65 years.
vii. Immediate payment of arrears of Specialist allowance to all Hospital based Healthcare Professionals who possess relevant post graduate qualification that is, MSc, Phd or post graduate fellowship who had attained the Consultant grade level 14 in the public service or CONHESS 13 in the Teaching Hospital sector and above.
viii. Immediate release of circular amending the extant circular for Medical Laboratory Scientists Interns to include post NYSC placement on grade level 09 step 2 and the upgrading of stale Officers across board.
Since the declaration, we had held series of meetings with the Government namely; 15th October, 2014, 9th November, 2014, 13th November, 2014, 19th November, 2014, 15th December, 2014 and 22nd December, 2014.
In all these meetings, the only progress said to be made is the decision of the Federal Government to re-calculate the financial implication of the proposed salary adjustment of workers salary on CONHESS structure as against the one they did in April, 2014.
The Honourable Minister of Labour and Productivity who presided over the 22nd December 2014 meeting promised to meet the President to receive approval leading to the issuance of circular on the said matter. Of all the over 10 circulars being expected only one was issued which is on the Consultant status of other Health Professionals. Hence that’s why the strike is still lingering.
The minimum requirements for the strike to be called off are contained in our communiqué.
3. Outcome of our recent NEC meeting held at FETHA, Abakaliki between 17th and 20th December, 2014.
Please see a copy of the outcome of our recent NEC meeting as contained in our communiqué.
4. National Health Act
The National Health Act which was recently signed by Mr. President is highly welcome as it makes very robust and good provision for strengthening of Primary Health Care Services in the country, provides for the inclusion of other healthcare Professionals in the composition of several Committees, ensures easy access to medical care by greater number of Nigerians especially those needing emergency medical services. The Act also provides opportunities for Nigerians in challenging their leaders through judicial process concerning their rights to health care services and many more opportunities.
We will however like to strongly advise that the Honourable Minister of Health should summon urgently a stake holders’ forum on health to discuss the various provisions on the National Health Act and other issues affecting the health sector with a view of addressing contentious issues that currently beset the sector.
It was however observed that throughout the length and breadth of the National Health Act, there was no mention of the existing registered trade Unions nor recognizing their roles in the health care services. This should however be corrected as soon as possible.
Similarly, the Act did not also provide for composition of Federal Ministry of Health despite our strong position on the matter. We therefore recommend that Federal Ministry of Health should be composed of various directorates that will reflect the various Healthcare Professional groups in the Health Sector.
5. Yayale Ahmed Presidential report
Gentlemen of the press, you would recall that Mr. President, Dr. Ebele Jonathan set up a Ten-man Committee of experts on inter-Professional relationship in the Health Sector on the 18th of September, 2013. At a stage of the life of the Committee, the Chairman, Alhaji Yayale Ahmed had to resign in protest of non-funding of the Committee so the Committee re-convened in May 2014 (230 days after its inauguration) and finally submitted its report to Mr. President on the 19th of December, 2014.
After a careful study of the report, we have the following observations which we would want the white paper Committee and Federal Government to take a careful look at.
Commendation: First of all, we commend the Federal Government for setting up both the Abdullahi Bello Gusau Committee on Harmonious work relationship of Health Professionals and workers in the Health Sector in August 2010 and the Yayale Ahmed Committee of September 2013. These are evidences that the Federal Government is desirous of resolving finally the challenges and conflicts in the Health Sector. We therefore strongly suggest that both the Abdullahi Bello and Yayale Ahmed reports be well studied and utilized in arriving at a final decision by the Government on any recommendation. This is in order to ensure that the much required industrial peace in the Health Sector is finally achieved.
i. We therefore suggest that the white paper Committee should consult with the Unions and Professional Associations in the Health Sector before accepting or rejecting the recommendations of the Yayale Ahmed Committee report.
ii. While we commend the Committee’s report which will go a long way in resolving some of the issues in the Health Sector, the report had also created further areas of disharmony especially with reference to the following areas:
a. Headship of; (i). Medical Laboratory Science Service (ii). Radiography (iii) Optometry etc, where Medical Practitioners are imposed as perpetual heads over other Professionals such as Medical Laboratory Scientists, Optometrists Radiographers and others. Since no profession is superior to another neither anyone inferior to the other we disagree with this recommendation for the following reasons:
i. It negates the provisions of the individual regulatory body.
ii. It is also contrary to the provision of schemes of service In use in the federation and public service rules on seniority.
In order to promote industrial peace and Professional autonomy, we strongly recommend that each of the recognized profession be allowed to have its own substantive head of department contrary to the recommendation that the Pathologist shall be the full Head of department while Medical Laboratory Scientist shall be Technical head. This is unacceptable to us.
b. Recommendation 65: (Review of MDP Act and MLSCN Act): We do not agree with the recommendation of Yayale Ahmed on this issue because the National Industrial Court of Nigeria (NIC) had ruled expressly that there is no conflict between MDP and MLSCN Acts.
Therefore, the Federal Ministry of Health and all Tertiary Hospitals should obey the Court judgement and implement it to the letter without further delay. Anything short of this will amount to disrespect of Court judgement, contempt of the Court and invitation to anarchy.
c. Restructuring of Federal Ministry of Health: We welcome and commend the Yayale Ahmed Committee recommendation on the restructuring and re-organization of the Federal Ministry of Health to accommodate all healthcare Professional groups in clusters. It is our hope that this recommendation shall not only be implemented immediately but it should be reflected in the future amendment to the National Health Act.
d. Creation of Top Management Committee (TMC): The recommendation of the creation of Top Management Committee for Teaching Hospitals is welcomed. However, we recommend that the position of Head of Department be clearly defined to mean a Director or someone acting in that position who is appointed to that position through promotion and not University Staff who are brought in abruptly and imposed on the authentic/permanent Staff of the Teaching Hospital.
e. The appointment of CMD: It is noted that Yayale Ahmed failed or refused completely to define the phrase “medically qualified” as contained in section 5(2) of the Teaching Hospital Act which provides that the Chief Medical Director should be a person that is medically qualified. From all available definitions locally, nationally and internationally, we have discovered that the term medically qualified is defined as follows;:
i. By American Legal Institute it is defined as (a) Physician, Physician Assistants, Nurses, Medical Technicians or any person who is recognized by American law as carrying blood and urine in the Hospital. American Legal Institute.
ii. Section 8(6) of the Teaching Hospital Act refers to medically qualified person namely; Medical Doctors, Nurses, Pharmacists, Mid-Wives etc.
iii. The Mac Milan dictionary defines it as Medical Doctors, Nurses and other Medical workers.
iv. International Conference on Harmonization of Technical Requirements for Registration of Pharmaceuticals for Human use defines Healthcare Professional as a medically-qualified person such as a Physician, Dentist, Nurse, Coroner, or as otherwise specified by local regulation. International Conference on Harmonization of Technical Requirements for Registration of Pharmaceutical use.
f. Guidelines for appointment of Chief Medical Director, Chairman, Medical Advisory Committee: There is need for national and uniform guidelines for the appointment of Chief Medical Director, Chairman, Medical Advisory Committee and the constitution and functions of the Medical Advisory Committee.
g. The Abolition of Doctor of Optometry and Doctor of Pharmacy degree programmes by the NUC as reported by the Yayale Ahmed Committee is rejected by us because it is not the responsibility of NUC to regulate Professional standards.
The Union would later issue a comprehensive report on the recommendations when the Union meets.
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