209 Views

3 Reasons Strikes Will Continue In Nigeria’s Health Sector

290420127691-1536x1152

No part of public service in Nigeria has experienced more strikes than the health sector.

Right now, public tertiary hospitals in Nigeria are struggling to get back to life after another series of strikes. The University College Hospital, Ibadan, was crippled for 108 days by a strike called by the Association of Resident Doctors. At LAUTECH Oshogbo, a strike closed the hospital for 5 months, and in the Psychiatric Hospital in Yaba, doctors walked away from their duty posts leaving their patients to their own means.  The story of the Federal Medical Centre in Owerri is already legendary, as health workers came to “work” every day but spent their time singing and praying on the hospital grounds, while ignoring their patients in the wards, protesting against the privatisation of some of the hospitals services. Their strike lasted for three months.

Last year, several public sector hospitals across the country were closed for about half of the year following strikes as doctors refused to return to work, even during the Ebola outbreak. Almost as soon as they returned, other health sector workers under the aegis of the Joint Health Sector Unions (JOHESU) proceeded to strike from November 2014 to February 2015.

When there are strikes in public sector hospitals, there are only two constituencies that suffer: a) the patients, and b) the tax-payer (i.e. you and I), who do not get a service that is paid for on our behalf by government. Other health workers not on strike, all collect their full salaries and allowances, the health workers on strike are ultimately paid in most cases, and even the hospital still gets its normal allocation from the Federal Ministry of Health as well as its quarterly “allocation” from the National Health Insurance Scheme, whether any of its’ patients covered by the scheme received clinical care during that quarter or not. So, for health workers and hospitals there are few, if any, consequences from strikes.

As professional bodies in the health sector prepare for strike actions, they tend to make three assumptions, which make the decision so easy in Nigeria. Below we examine these assumptions and highlight how they may not continue to hold in the future:

  1. Government will always settle, eventually: Let’s tell ourselves the simple truth. Government has always settled. Not only have they always settled, they have not asked or received anything tangible in return.  Salaries have increased without any change to the quality of service delivered. The complexity of health and measuring impact makes accountability difficult. So, unlike in most other contexts, no doctor working in the public sector in Nigeria has a contract or specification that states what the clinical expectations are in terms of the service he/she is delivering.  There are no contracts with surgeons that state how many cases they are contracted to do, or how many patients physicians are expected to see. This also applies to other categories of health workers; and crucially also applies at institutional level. There are no process indicators, no quality indicators, no outcome indicators and definitely no patient satisfaction indicators. We do not know how many patients each public health facility is expected to see or what standard of service they are supposed to deliver. So there is absolutely no way for government (us) to know if we are getting value for money. We can pay salaries as high as we like, but until we link pay and funding to performance, nothing will change.  Although this has never happened, it is only a matter of time, until government starts asking for value for money from the sector.
  2. The patients will always return: This is an assumption that we are glad to say is already being proven wrong. Patients will not always return, even those at the poorer end of the socioeconomic spectrum. A tour round many of the teaching and other public hospitals will reveal that many beds are empty, and increasingly so. There is a quiet evolution going on in the private health care sector in Nigeria. Previously, the sector was inherently inefficient with many two to four bed hospitals, whose ineffective management tended to charge over-the-top fees for the handful of patients unfortunate enough to end up in their care. This is changing, as a series of innovative groups are pulling together resources to build clinical collaborations that will enable high utilisation of services, lower costs and better care in the private sector.  Once this gains momentum, there will be less and less of a reason to go to many of the public sector hospitals. It will only be a matter of time for government to realise that they cannot continue funding these hospitals, when patients seek their care elsewhere.  Money will begin to follow the patient.
  3. Striking workers will always return to their jobs: This is the strongest of all the assumptions. However, staff of NITEL and NEPA also once thought that they would always have their jobs. If there are insufficient patients in most public sector hospitals and these hospitals are forced to close, the inevitable consequence is that there will simply be nothing to do in them. This is a natural consequence; it can be slowed, but cannot be stopped.
ALSO READ  Nigeria's Youngest Billionaires (Photos)

There are only two possible end points for the scenario playing out in the Nigerian public health care sector at the tertiary level; complete disintegration of the publicly delivered tertiary health care (similar to what happened with NITEL, NEPA) or a complete turn around. As it stands, the health  sector is surely and firmly walking towards self-destruction.  Too many health professions in Nigeria are so focused on their professional interests and egos that they seem to have lost sight of the bigger picture. In fighting for the ball, we are destroying it. If this continues, the outcome is inevitable. There will be nothing left to fight over.

The need has never been greater for real leadership to emerge from the professional bodies that will be willing to put the patient as the client front and centre of their action. There may only be a tiny window of opportunity to change course. Chances are that it is already too late… and that the downward spiral is well on its way.

Still, we grasp for even a hint of light at the end of the tunnel, that our hopes may rise once again.

This piece was originally published at Nigeria Health Watch.

Source: diasporaconnex.com

Get the best viral stories straight into your inbox!

Don't worry, we don't spam

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published.

Latest Posts

APC Will Expose PDP Looters During 2019 Election Campaign, Says Oshiomole
Buzz & Trends
36 views
Buzz & Trends
36 views

APC Will Expose PDP Looters During 2019 Election Campaign, Says Oshiomole

MT - May 25, 2018

Former governor of Edo State, Comrade Adams Oshiomhole has disclosed that campaign for the forthcoming general elections would be an interesting one as his party, the ruling All Progressive…

Fani-Kayode’s Wife Delivered A Set Of Triplets
Entertainment
47 views
Entertainment
47 views

Fani-Kayode’s Wife Delivered A Set Of Triplets

MT - May 25, 2018

The wife of former Aviation Minister, Femi Fani-Kayode, has delivered a set of triplets. Precious gave birth to three boys. She made the announcement on her Instagram…

APC Tells Security Agencies To Hold Okorocha Responsible For Breakdown Of Law And Order In Imo State
Buzz & Trends
37 views
Buzz & Trends
37 views

APC Tells Security Agencies To Hold Okorocha Responsible For Breakdown Of Law And Order In Imo State

MT - May 25, 2018

The All Progressives Congress, APC, in Imo State, has urged security agencies to hold the State Governor, Rochas Okorocha responsible for any breakdown of law and order…

Two Taraba APC Factions Lay Claim To Party Leadership
Politics
50 views
Politics
50 views

Two Taraba APC Factions Lay Claim To Party Leadership

MT - May 25, 2018

Barely a week after the Taraba State chapter of the All Progressive Congress elected two separate executives at different locations in Jalingo, both factions claim that their…

Adekunle Gold Drops New Album “About 30”, Says I Am Overwhelmed
Entertainment
48 views
Entertainment
48 views

Adekunle Gold Drops New Album “About 30”, Says I Am Overwhelmed

MT - May 25, 2018

Nigeria’s alternative sound singer, Adekunle Gold on Friday expressed how overwhelmed he was at the way his fans loved his new album, About 30. The singer took…

We’ll Expose How PDP Looted Treasury, Plunged Nigerians Into Poverty – Oshiomhole Threatens
Politics
38 views
Politics
38 views

We’ll Expose How PDP Looted Treasury, Plunged Nigerians Into Poverty – Oshiomhole Threatens

PH - May 25, 2018

Comrade Adams Oshiomhole has said that campaigns for 2019 general elections will be interesting because his party, the All Progressives Congress (APC), will reveal to Nigerians how…

Martin Luther King’s Daughter Rejects Claim That Her Father Would Be Proud Of Trump
Featured
41 views
Featured
41 views

Martin Luther King’s Daughter Rejects Claim That Her Father Would Be Proud Of Trump

MT - May 25, 2018

The daughter of Martin Luther King has turned down a claim that the major icon of the US civil rights movements would have been “proud of” Donald…

15 Injured As Blast Rock Indian Restaurant
Shocking
43 views
Shocking
43 views

15 Injured As Blast Rock Indian Restaurant

PH - May 25, 2018

Canadian police on Friday launched a hunt for two men who they believe is behind an explosion in an Indian restaurant near Toronto that injured 15 people.…

APC Restructuring Panel Recieve Praises For A Job Well Done
Best of Nigeria
39 views
Best of Nigeria
39 views

APC Restructuring Panel Recieve Praises For A Job Well Done

PH - May 25, 2018

Governor Seriake Dickson of Bayelsa State has praised Governor Nasir El-Rufai of All Peoples Congress panel on restructuring for doing a good job stressing that Nigeria was…

Insecurity: Zamfara Assembly Writes To Minister Over Incessant Killings
Buzz & Trends
47 views
Buzz & Trends
47 views

Insecurity: Zamfara Assembly Writes To Minister Over Incessant Killings

MT - May 25, 2018

Zamfara House of Assembly has directed its secretariat to write a letter to Minister of defence, Mansur Dan’ali, over incessant killings and security challenges in the state.…

Actor Jigan of ‘Sho-Mo-Age-Mi’ Fame, Writes About His ‘Yahoo’ Days and It’s Touching
Best of Nigeria
45 views
Best of Nigeria
45 views

Actor Jigan of ‘Sho-Mo-Age-Mi’ Fame, Writes About His ‘Yahoo’ Days and It’s Touching

MT - May 25, 2018

  According to Jigan, he has lived a flamboyant life but helping people has been his major thing as he can give someone his ‘last kobo’. The…

Victor Moses to Miss Super Eagles Match Against DR Congo as Mikel, Others Arrive in Camp
Sports
48 views
Sports
48 views

Victor Moses to Miss Super Eagles Match Against DR Congo as Mikel, Others Arrive in Camp

MT - May 25, 2018

The Super Eagles official twitter handle on Thursday, revealed that star player, Victor Moses will not be present when the Super Eagles take on DR Congo in…

Nigerian Author, Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, Adresses Harvard’s Class of 2018
Best of Nigeria
50 views
Best of Nigeria
50 views

Nigerian Author, Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, Adresses Harvard’s Class of 2018

PH - May 25, 2018

Writer and speaker Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie gave the class day address to the Harvard Class of 2018 on Wednesday. Chimamanda, characteristically, had a lot of jokes, but…

My Neighbour Beats Pregnant Wife Everyday, Man Raises Alarm On Twitter
Buzz & Trends
45 views
Buzz & Trends
45 views

My Neighbour Beats Pregnant Wife Everyday, Man Raises Alarm On Twitter

MT - May 25, 2018

An Abuja resident has raised the alarm about his neighbour, who beats his pregnant wife day and night. The man, who identified himself simply as Biba, raised…

How Former Employee Allegedly Dupe Folorunsho Alakija Foundation Of N3million
General
38 views
General
38 views

How Former Employee Allegedly Dupe Folorunsho Alakija Foundation Of N3million

MT - May 25, 2018

Mrs. Folorunso Alakija, one of the richest women in Africa, on Thursday revealed to an Ikeja High Court how she was duped by Vincent Ayewah, one of…

China Offers Scholarship To 47 UNIZIK Students
Geeky & Smart
61 views
Geeky & Smart
61 views

China Offers Scholarship To 47 UNIZIK Students

PH - May 25, 2018

The Chinese Embassy in Nigeria on Thursday offered scholarship to 47 students of Nnamdi Azikiwe University, a.k.a. UNIZIK, Awka, Anambra State. Professor Joseph Ahaneku, vice chancellor of…

READ: Singer Timaya Gives Advise to People Living Fake Lifestyles; “Wear the Clothes You Can Afford”
Best of Nigeria
50 views
Best of Nigeria
50 views

READ: Singer Timaya Gives Advise to People Living Fake Lifestyles; “Wear the Clothes You Can Afford”

MT - May 25, 2018

Popular Nigerian singer, Timaya has some words of advise for folks who hell bent on living a fake life just to ‘keep up with the Jones’s’ While people are…

Photos: Beautiful Family: Rapper, Olamide Steps Out With His Fiancee And Son
Best of Nigeria
54 views
Best of Nigeria
54 views

Photos: Beautiful Family: Rapper, Olamide Steps Out With His Fiancee And Son

MT - May 25, 2018

Indigenous Nigerian rapper, Olamide stepped out recently with his fiancee, Bukunmi and their son for what he called ‘School runs’. It should be recalled that the rapper proposed to…

Loading...