Stephen Ukandu, Umuahia
Medical services may no longer be accessible in any hospital in Abia State from December 8 as doctors in the state have, again, threatened to embark on indefinite strike if the backlog of salary arrears owed their colleagues in some public health institutions were not defrayed.
Nigeria Medical Association, NMA, which gave the threat after an emergency meeting of the association said there was no going back on the proposed strike unless its demands were fully met.
The medical body accused Government of lack of commitment in its earlier promises, and insensitivity towards the plight of doctors in its employ.
This was contained in a communique issued by NMA after its emergency meeting Sunday at its Aba zonal office, and made available to newsmen on Monday.
NMA in a communique after the emergency session, said Government should be held responsible for whatever happens to the health sector if the situation boils down to the commencement of the “mother of strikes.”
According to the communique signed by Dr Abali Isaiah; and Dr Daniel Ekeleme, NMA Chairman and Secretary respectively, doctors in Abia State University Teaching Hospital Aba, ABSUTH are owed arrears of 25 months while their counterparts in the Health Management Board, HMB, are owed for 13 months.
Bemoaning the fate of the affected doctors, NMA urged the State Government to do the needful or brace up for the worst.
According to the Communique made available to Ikengaonline, both public and private health facilities will be crippled if the demands of the doctors were not met before the deadline.
The communique read in part: “Doctors working at ABSUTH and HMB are currently being owed between 21 and 25 months and 13 months salary arrears respectively.
“The 21 days Ultimatum approved by National Executive Council (NEC) of NMA and given to ABSG on 17th Nov.2023, to clear the aforementioned salary arrears is currently in its 17th day.
“ABSG is yet to show any serious commitment to the cause; and doctors working with ABSUTH and HMB are currently undergoing an untold hardship
“Our ultimatum to the ABSG still stands and running. Congress insisted on the payment of what is owed Doctors as condition to avert the impending strike.
“Failure to meet the above-mentioned demands on or before 8th of December 2022 would force ALL Doctors in federal, state, and private sectors in Abia State to proceed on total and indefinite strike.
“ABSG should be held responsible for any medical mishap that may occur during the period of the industrial disharmony.”
ABSUTH recently lost accreditation to admit Medical students following dilapidation of the hospital as a result of incessant strikes occasioned by non payment of doctors’ wages.