By Obioma C. Appolos
The House of Representatives have called for greater harmony between the Federal government and health workers insisting that there is need for a health care system that average Nigerian can be proud of.
Chairman, House Committee on Health Services, Hon. Dr. Yusuf Tanko Sununu said the leadership of the House of Representatives under the Speaker Femi Gbajabiamila appreciates the health workers for not embarking on industrial strike at this period of Covid-19 Pandemic.
According to Dr. Sununu, who paid a courtesy visit to the Joint Health Sector Union (JOHESU) executive in Abuja on Thursday said, “My visit is part of the agenda of House of Representatives under the leadership of the Speaker Femi Gbajabiamila which includes the promotion of gualitative health care services. The speaker in his wisdom realised that when there is harmony between the stakeholders in the sector, then progress will be made.
“The Covid -19 pandemic has exposed the health system and we are in a situation where the haves and have-nots are situated in the same place and so no one travels. We must therefore ensure that our health infrastructure is improved.
“We are here also to thank the health workers for not embarking on strike, and for interfacing when FCT chapter when they threatened to embark on strike.
“There is need for a health care system that average Nigerians can be proud of. Every person is important under this government. Without the services of lower cadre the higher professional cannot carry out their job. We must manage our differences to ensure we understand ourself and move the country forward. We must come together to rescue this nation.
“We are not unmindful of our health workers in the frontline who paid the ultimate price. This is why we are working out a plan to compensate their families.
“A committee has been set up. We will call for a public hearing where the strategy and method to be used in disbursing the compensations will be agreed on. The families of the deceased will be located and we must ensure the money reaches them.
“Our aim is to ensure there is no disharmony anymore in the health sector. We are reaching out to major stakeholders and negotiating their demands to ensure health workers continue with their work with no hitches or grievances.”
Earlier, the chairman of the Joint Health Sector Union (JOHESU), Comrade Biobelemoye Josiah had congratulated Dr. Sununu for his emergence as Chairman, House Committee on Health Services and assured him of the preparedness of the health workers to work with the authorities.
He informed the Reps delegation that MHWUN only recently distributed Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) which includes face masks, sanitizers and disinfectants to its members to its members to help the increasing infection rate among health workers in Nigeria.
National President Medical and Health Workers Union of Nigeria (MHWUN), Josiah Biobelemoye who urged the legislative and executive arms of government to prioritise the needs and demands of healthcare workers, warned that the delayed payment of deferred and adjusted salaries was a ticking time bomb.
Commending the efforts and concern of the National Assembly in the welfare of healthcare workers including the steps being taken to back the consolidated revenue provision of 1 percent by law, he called for increased funding of the health sector and budgetary provision to fund the salary adjustments.
“We are doing so much and our people are showing so much understanding within this period because its COVID time but you can’t expect people to be patient all through for ever.
“Government said there is no money but they are planning to pay private school teachers who are not even under the employment of government. We that are in the fore front contending with the salvage how will you then explain to us government does not have the money to pay our deferred salaries of April and May 2018, and the withheld salaries in FMC Owerri, JUTH, LUTH and others. How will you convince us?
“We are not against government trying to help out private schools, but if you are helping the private schools why can’t you help us. Is it justifiable to keep the salaries of those who are in the war front?
“We are appealing to the executive; quickly address these matters because they are ticking time bombs and they should not allow them to be detonated before they come to the rescue because any detonated bomb does not have positive results, its always negative,” Biobelemoye warned.
It would be recalled that MHWUN recently distributed are 15,200 hand sanitizers, 2,000 pieces of disinfectant and 1,200 pieces of hand wash to its members across the 36 states of the Federation.