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NMA urges FG to declare JOHESU illegal, warns unions against assaulting doctors

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• LASUTH is providing medical services, NARD president insists
• 301 died of cerebrospinal meningitis this year, says NCDC 

The Nigeria Medical Association (NMA) has asked the Federal Government to declare the Joint Health Sector Unions (JOHESU) illegal, saying its action is a gang-up against Nigerians.The association described JOHESU as an unholy alliance set up for the purpose of sabotaging the genuine effort to ensure lasting peace and development of the country’s health sector.

The Kaduna State Branch Chairman of the association, Dr. Abdulrahman Shu, who spoke yesterday at press conference organised in the state to declare the position of NMA regarding the present strike by JOHESU, said doctors in Kaduna had been going about their legitimate duties in all public health facilities across the state.While commending the peace initiative of government to liaise with JOHESU, he said “there is no such cadre in the scheme of service of the Federal Republic of Nigeria defined as JOHESU.”

He said: “I am sure Nigerians are familiar with doctors, nurses, pharmacists, among others, in our hospitals and they have recognised professional associations to which they belong. But for government to agree to discuss with a group unknown to law instead of the professional bodies defined and recognised, is rather a case of kindness taken too far.

“We, therefore, call on Nigerians and particularly the Federal Government to henceforth declare JOHESU unknown to law and illegal.“To the best of our knowledge, this umbrella (JOHESU) is not registered, is unknown and in fact in our hospitals, nobody deals with JOHESU, we deal with professional groups in the hospitals.”He, however, urged members of the public to continue to patronise public hospitals across the state, saying doctors and other healthcare workers are available and attending to the public.

In a related vein, the Oyo State Branch of the NMA has warned striking members of JOHESU against harassing and assaulting doctors’ work ingenuity in all hospitals in the state.It also called on the security agents to protect lives and property of the doctors working in the state.

The NMA said the call became necessary because of various threats from JOHESU members who loitered around hospitals to threaten doctors on duty and staying at the gates of the hospitals to give wrong information to patients that hospitals are on strike.The branch chairman, Dr. Mojisola Atalabi, who spoke at a press conference at the NMA secretariat in Ibadan yesterday, said the public should know that hospitals are attending to patients and should disregard rumours that all workers in hospitals are on strike.

Meanwhile, the National Association of Resident Doctors (NARD), Lagos State University Teaching Hospital (LASUTH), Ikeja, has said that doctors are working despite the ongoing strike by JOHESU.Its president, Dr. Salami Ajibola, told the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in Lagos that the doctors were working to ensure that the hospital is not grounded.
 
However, the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) has said that about 301 persons died of cerebrospinal meningitis this year.Assistant Director, Health, Emergency Preparedness and Response at NCDC, Dr. Olaolu Aderinola, who disclosed this at a media training yesterday in Abuja, said that Zamfara and Katsina states were the worst hit.

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