Medical Practitioners Strike: Johesu On The Way To Calvary, But Who Wants Fejiro Oliver Dead?
… MY INTERVIEW WITH DR FELIX FANIRAN (NUPTAM NATIONAL CHAIRMAN)
Because we have suffered, and we are not afraid to suffer in order to survive, we are ready to give up everything; even our lives in our struggle for justice
I owe no one apology for being a journalist/activist and like the young doctors of medicine who have responded that anyone who wants to read medicine should go and buy JAMB form; today I say to them also to go and buy JAMB form and apply for journalism. Tell me that anyone can be a journalist and we in the profession will tell you that is a fat lie. We were not influenced as kids just the way the stethoscope attracted you, rather we chose this reporting life; hence we remain simple and modest. Yes, to these untrained physicians (with exception to the older and sincere ones) who say that the Nurses, Medical Lab Scientist and Radiographers have paid me to set the nation on fire; I also say to you: get a journalist and pay him #150 million Naira to do similar report. Should you get confused on whom to hire, I will recommend my good colleague, Rudolf Okonkwo to you, but be prepared to cough out dollars. When has it become a mortal sin to stand on the side of truth simply because a few group of individuals who fear that their ‘position’ is been threatened? They cry to high heaven that Fejiro Oliver is pulling the country down with his reports, as if I’m the corrupt politician looting the country silly.
How are the mighty fallen, how are the sacred desecrated; this seem to be the lots of the doctors of medicine who are aggrieved that the mask surrounding them has been unmasked, the mystery behind their insignificant work demystified and thus Fejiro Oliver head must pay for it. Truth be told and the game of fairness played. This is not the doctors of medicine we used to know, and just as a Medical Director of the NMA extraction called to express his view “Fejiro, I must acknowledge your most unbiased stand in this issue. You may have hurt my medical colleagues but I can authoritatively tell you that this is not the true way that the health system is practiced. It is teamwork with each medical officer dependent on each other. NMA has become a political tool and we of the progressive truly apologize for their misdeed”.
We have shifted attention from Suntai Danbaba return from the USA, with the media agog of the medical strike. A medical doctor who called summarized it, “Oliver, you and your JOHESU cohorts have rendered the news of Taraba State governor return useless, rather all comments were directed at the strike even broadcasted on BBM. You may have succeeded in this battle, but we will smoke you out”. Another fellow who called very early in the morning thundered brimstone that I have torn the country apart with my report and he will personally fish me out to deal with. Still yet followed numerous messages that should I succeed in getting Mr. Chukwu Onyebuchi removed as the Minister of health, my days on earth are numbered as I will go down with him.
Now, do I cower at threats of death, or do I shiver at the sound of bullets pelted in my skull? NO! Many Journalists have paid the supreme price before now and if this strike will lead to liberation and harmony in the health sector, with me paying the price; so be it. But know you this, you who have promised to smoke me out. Fejiro Oliver needs no smoking out; your colleagues see me every day as we go out for games and clubs to hang out; they encourage the work we at secretsreporters do, even this one that we have removed the ‘shield’ from them. They have our pictures with them, just as they have our addresses. We gave out our phone numbers and email addresses to enable us interact, so feel free to carry out your threat. However, we have forwarded your threats to the committee for the protection of Journalists, Reporters without border etc and they are aware of all we do. Besides, there is a throne in heaven that watches over the affairs of men. The throne seats an incorruptible judge and that judge watches over our lives and we shall he protect.
To you who have called proposing seminars and youth leadership series and have Fejiro Oliver speak, do know this: I do not reject the offers to speak due to threat. No! I do so to focus on the liberation mission ahead, the challenges that comes with reporting. We do not report for fame or to globe trot; we report to set straight the records
That said, let the truth continue and the scales that have long blinded patients’ eyes fall off.
With tears in my eyes I type, seeing dead bodies dumped in the mortuary due to this strike, dead bodies that would have been living, had the pride of a profession not consume them. Just few days that the nurses left the sick baby unit (SBU), babies who would have been the savior of the country has been sent to early graves. This is the wickedness of man as portrayed by Mr. Chukwu Onyebuchi. Have these doctors of medicine now realize that these nurses run the hospital and not them as they claim? Do they not know that the nurses are the fathers and mothers of the patient who truly do all the work, yet get no recognition? Just like an American doctor confesses, “doctors will see you anywhere from 5 to 30 minutes a day, depending on how sick you are, and the rest of the day is the nurse. They are the ones making sure you get your pills and checking that your vital signs aren’t dropping. If you start vomiting, doctors will run out of the room and the nurses will rush in. they change your wound dressing and dress your IV line, and clean disgusting things off you even though you aren’t their only patient. I learned that they are keys to be a good doctor. You piss off the nursing staff and you have a miserable career at that hospital. They are as important as being a good doctor as your medical degree, even more. If you come out of the medical school with a chip on your shoulder against nurses, you better lose it fast. Because they will make or break your training, and often know more than you do. Be nice and they will teach you. A good neurology nurse is often a better neurologist than doctors that I have met. I don’t understand physicians who adopt an adversarial relationship with nurses. They are depriving themselves of an education in hospital wisdom.
On a difficult day on call, sometimes all it takes is a sympathetic nurse to temporarily add you to his/her patient list, steal you a diet coke from the fridge and let you cry on her/his shoulder for five minutes. It doesn’t make the day any less busy, but helps you absorb the punishment later”.
That’s a true confession from a trained doctor in a system that works. We could bring more or haven’t you heard that a nurse is the health minister in Botswana, a country who by WHO standard rank better than Nigerian, which has been ran underground by MBBS graduates? We do not heat the polity nor wish to cause the country to break up, but we want to break the monopoly of a 12 percent professionals, who according to one of them, become demi gods the moment they go into specialization. Almost all medical professions specialize, just as they have knowledge of all branches of medicine; what then is the crown of ego that rest on our doctor of medicine head?
What do we say about the medical lab scientist that can operate individually without help from the doctors of medicine? Scientists who the general body physicians despicably call lab technologist to raise their ego. For the various years I have fallen sick, I reiterate that I have never needed the services of a physician, but I have gone countless to have the lab scientist carry out a test on me, nurses taken care of me, doctor of optometry administer treatment to me and the DPT brought me back to normalcy. I have visited the pharmacist (who graduates as doctors, Pharm D) to get them prescribe drugs which have made me whole or is it the radiologist that I have gone to for scan that I need mention? All of them have I met without referral by the general body physician. Is it the case of NYSC that I went for years ago in the North and I fell sick in camp, yet none of the youth corp. physician could diagnose the case?
Travel wider, dear ‘doctor’ and know that in the U.S, they have Doctor of Medical lab science (D.MLS), and they manage the lab together with pathologists in what is called Matrix management. You call your colleagues who spent years in school paramedics; pray, define who a paramedic? Live and let’s live!
Let the speck fall off the masses eyes and let the deceit stop. You accuse secretsreporters of not medically grounded and thus report fiction. Deny it that you do a course in physiotherapy apart from your year one, which is if you ever do at all. Lie to Nigerians that the doctors of physiotherapists don’t get first hand contact with patients. Spread the lies that radiographers/radiologists who are exposed to radiation and carry out ORIF on an orthopedic patient snap only pictures and unable to read what they film. Keep the falsehood on that pharmacists who make the drugs your patients use are just dispensers. Let your conscience guide you as you pedal lies to the innocent public. Tell us that the years they spent in medical school was just to learn photography, (a course we journalists studied in school), sell drugs, take blood samples or just learnt how to use infrared to relieve pains? Now that the strike is on; Oh ye almighty doctors, do the job. Care for the sick babies and patients that their parents, the nurses have left under your care. Carry out the pathology test that you claim to know and snap the pictures you say the imaging scientists do.
How long will this deception live that only MBBS graduates should be CMD.? Do we tell it to the world how OAUTH CMD made the hospital to be sealed for not paying tax for six years, hence owing #3 billion? Was it that the taxes were not been deducted from salary? Obviously no, rather it disappeared into thin air, a case of mismanagement. The various ministers of health in USA, France and numerous countries are not MBBS practitioners, but a ministry where nurses and other medical practitioners have headed. Are we no longer copying the western world again? Do we dance only the dance when it suits our dance steps? The minister of health has failed us and his sack is long overdue. The president I know may not give a damn, but he cares about the loss of lives. We know that he feels the pain and Nigerians on bended knees are pleading that you ask Onyebuchi to resign honorably.
Secretsreporters has confirmed that the Neuropsychiatric Hospital, Abeokuta has become a ghost land
“The JOHESU strike embarked upon by health workers to drive home their demands for equity and fairness in the sector has left the Neuropsychiatric Hospital, Aro, Abeokuta a ghost town. Whereas, the NMA president and his cronies have vowed and boasted to keep the health sectors running even in the absence of other health workers. However, only 2 days into the strike, the usually bustling compound of the hospital has been turned to a ghost town as service areas were under lock and key and most wards have been deserted. Rather than accept their failure and inability to run a health system, Chukwu’s cronies in the compound have been employing various tactics ranging from intimidation, cheap blackmail, threats and confrontation. Even the police were invited but they were handled with maturity and for the first time in my life, the police did not allow themselves to be used cheaply and dragged unnecessarily into a purely labour dispute. However, in their grandiose manner, these general body physicians still carry their shoulders high and passing various comments aimed at dampening our spirits or intimidating other health professionals. SOME OBNOXIOUS COMMENTS BY SOME ARROGANT PHYSICIANS IN ARO (Acting provost and chief medical director): “I will not even discharge my patients; I will only ask the stable patients to manage the unstable ones’’ This implies that they recognize that they can’t do it alone but rather than accept the fact, they choose to utilize those who are not trained to attend to clients. “Instead of the paralysis of the hospital activities during strikes, some hospital departments should be outsourced e.g. Pharmacy, Laboratory e.t.c.” ‘’In an abnormal situation like this, we don’t need to lose our sanity, become irresponsible and wicked’’ Implying that strike is an act of wickedness on the patient, and does not matter what happens to the other health professional. (A week old consultant): “I only came like a unionist in order to advice you. Once they dangle carrot before your people, they will come back to work”. Other health professionals should be aware of how they are being perceived by these arrogant physicians. A message to those that might want to sabotage the efforts. “Their activists should be sacked” (Another very proud consultant): But they must know that not even death can stop us in this struggle. We are prepared to utilize the last drop of blood in our veins to ensure that fairness and justice is ensured. “Upon all these illegality you are doing”. They think it is illegality to demand for your rights, a right which the industrial court has ruled should be granted”
INTERVIEW WITH NUPTAM NATIONAL CHAIRMAN, FELIX FANIRAN
Q1.Reasons for d strike:
The origin of this could be traced to 1985-1993 when late Prof. Olikoye Ransome-Kuti, a medical practitioner and a leader of Nigerian Medical Association was the Minister of Health under Gen Ibrahim Babangida as Head of state. Olikoye discriminated against non ‘medical practitioners’ in many ways, namely: wrong interpretation of d phrase-”medically qualified “which he claimed meant ‘Medical Practitioners’ instead of “Health care Professionals’, the refusal to implement the Industrial Arbitration Panel/National Industrial Court ruling in favour of Nurses/Midwives on d issues of recognizing Nurses as a profession, creation of a directorate for them in the FMOH since then, the approval of a separate salary structure for Medical and Dental practitioners(MSS/MSSS in 1991 with fat allowances ) to the detriment of other professionals/workers. Regrettably, subsequent Ministers of NMA extraction-Profs Osotimehin and Onyebuchi Chukwu have been trying to do same. The current decision of JOHESU is to put an end to these acts of neo-colonialism and Professionalism which NMA and her members backed by the Government through the Minister of Health have subjected other Health Professionals/workers to. Specifically, the current impasse is based on: A 10-point demand submitted to FMOH in Sept 2011- 4 issues referred to NIC in June 2012(Skipping of salary level CONHESS 10, Withdrawal of consultancy status from non -NMA members, Non- payment of Specialist allowance to allied health professionals. Refusal to honour March 2006 ruling of NIC on call duty and other professional allowances. Please note, agreement was reached on the 10th of May 2012 on five other. Issues viz; 1) promotion of health professionals from CONHESS 14 to 15. (2),Call for implementation of )2008 Job evaluation exercise, ( 3) The Abdullahi Bello presidential committee report on Harmony. (4)Upward review of retirement age as their counter parts in d Universities. (5) Reconstitution of Boards of Hospitals to reflect the multi professional nature of d sector. Finally, the 10th point is-the removal of d Minister for discrimination.
Q2.On d issue of appeal: I am not aware if the minister is honestly sincere about this .Labour issues of this nature end at the National Industrial Court. However if it is true, it means the Minister does not want peace in the health sector and Mr. President should do away with him immediately. Please be informed that both parties to the dispute-JOHESU/FMOH agreed inter-alia in June 2012 that the outcome of d NIC would be acceptable to us. Prof Chukwu is following the footsteps of his seniors-Profs Osotimehin and Ransome Kuti who connived with NMA leaders to unleash terror on other Health Professionals’/Workers by refusing to implement relevant awards .Enough is enough!
Q3. On why JOHESU, not individual union. JOHESU is for an improved health care delivery nationwide: Each Union is autonomous and may embark on strike independently after fulfilling the approved rules but where all Unions have common cause, JOHESU comes in to play that role. In the case of NMA, it is not a registered Trade Union; therefore, anytime it embarks on strike, it does so illegally. Henceforth, any group or association which is not legally registered as a trade union and carries out trade union activities would be dealt with accordingly. Conglomeration/coalition of five registered Trade/Industrial Unions was formed in 2008 to promote unity, harmony and teamwork (end)
My dear President, hearken to the voice of reason. Do we give you the full profile of your minister how and why he was removed as Medical Director of Ebonyi State specialist hospital without his knowledge for actions such as this and other issues? We will, but in due time! Our health must not be played politics with by a minister who has shown his incompetence managing one hospital. If you could sack the minister of youth development, Mr. Inuwa Abdul-Kadir for acts not as grievous as Onyebuchi; do same to this minister of health.
This is the deciding moment of truth, a time to take a stand to collectively stop monopoly in the health sector. The actions we take today are the history which our generations will judge us with. Mr. President, think of the calamity that will happen should state and local government hospitals join this strike on 28th of August. JOHESU is on the way to Calvary and the NMA is acting the Romans, but, and it’s a big but; should they mount the deadly cross, there may be no savior and we will pay with our blood. What will posterity remember you for when this medical genocide takes place under your presidency?