By Ndidi Chukwu
Doctors in Abuja have the decried malicious attacks of its members by health workers. Doctors accused striking Joint Health Sector Union members of assaulting and harassing personnel on duty and also vandalizing hospital property. Staff at three hospitals, Gwarimpa General Hospital , National Hospital and University of Abuja Teaching Hospital were assaulted over three days, the Nigerian Medical Association said on Thursday.
NMA chairman in the FCT, Dr Fatima Mairami, said attackers believed to be members of JOHESU “broke down the entrance to the main block and that of the laboratory and shot canisters of tear gas within Gwarimpa Hospital causing severe respiratory distress to members of staff and defenseless patients, including premature babies.”
Dr Eucharist Anunobi, a senior official, an asthmatic, told a media briefing she fainted in the incident.
JOHESU, a coalition of health workers excluding doctors, has been on strike since last November, leaving hospitals to doctors. NMA said management of the hospitals involved have lodged reports with the police and for stringer security in hospitals.
The accusation is the first formal admission that striking workers attempted to disrupt skeletal services at hospitals after resident doctors at National Hospital made similar allegations late December 2014 to Health Reporters.
The NMA also accused JOHESU of some unethical practice by deliberately locking up hospital equipment, consumables, reagents, theatres and labour wards and then disappearing with the keys. Dr Mairami sees it as a “clear breach of public service rules which require investigation, restoration and appropriate sanctions by the authorities of the affected health facilities.”
NMA said it was concerned about safeguarding the lives of “health workers who have continued to render essential health services and saving lives in the midst of the needless strike.”
JOHESU has denied the allegations, insisting its members could have no reason to disrupt hospital services. An official told Health Reporters on phone the accusation was concocted to rubbish the image of JOHESU, and said the hospitals could have made it clearer by showing evidence on the nature of the assault.