The National Association of Nigeria Nurses and Midwives, Lagos state chapter, has declared a three-day warning strike from Monday, January 9 to Wednesday, 12, 2022, to demand better working conditions from the Lagos State government.
The Chairman of the State chapter, Comrade Julius Awojide, made the statement at an emergency congress in Lagos on Saturday, January 8, 2022, he lamented the reported government insensitivity to the plight of nurses in the state.
He said, “The Council decided to embark on the warning strike after careful consideration to call the attention of the government to the severity of the situation and to get them to address the issues promptly. We engaged the government on several occasions on the issues without the desired pace of outcome.
“In our estimation, the Lagos government is yet to fully come to terms with how incredibly challenging the situation in the health sector has been for our members especially in the last two years.”
Awojide reiterated that the warning strike was necessary to inform the government that nurses would no longer be overworked, undervalued and underpaid without any consequences.
He said that the association took stock of the challenges faced by the nursing profession, as well as other pending issues before the State Government at its State Executive Council meeting, held on 29th December 2021. He asserted that the issues discussed continued to cause great suffering to their members, and by extension to the public.
He decried the poor working conditions of nurses in the state, adding that this had resulted in the mass exodus of professional nurses to better climes.
Awojide said, “More than 496 out of 2,350 nurses in the employ of Lagos State Health Service Commission left between 2019 and 2021 and with less than 15 per cent due to statutory retirement.
“Over 200 nurses left the services of the Lagos State University Teaching Hospital within the same period. Over 80 nurses left Primary Healthcare Board within the last two years which has only about 700 nurses and midwives
He stated that replacement-on-exit policy had been rendered ineffective by the inability to easily find replacements, adding that nurses were critical assets.
Awojide explained that the policy was meant to provide immediate placement for the much-needed medical professionals once a medical professional resigns or leaves.
The Chairman said that the massive brain drain and the absence of commensurate replacements have led to an increased workload on nurses in the state.
“Out of the 500 vacancies approved for recruitment by the governor for the health service commission recently, less than 300 applied, especially in a country with a 33.2 per cent unemployment rate.
“A reduced capacity in the health workforce means a reduced capacity to contain and fight new waves of pandemics and outbreaks. A poor retention rate only guarantees paralytic responses to new waves of pandemics within the foreseeable future,’’ Awojide added.