Magnus Eze, Enugu
Residents of Enugu urban have appealed the striking members of the Association of Resident Doctors of the Enugu State University Teaching Hospital (ESUTH) Parklane, Enugu, to consider their plight and call off their industrial action.
The resident doctors’ withdrawal of services in the hospital has entered its second week, following their allegation that the state government had reneged on an earlier agreement to pay the 100 per cent of the Consolidated Medical Salary Scale (CONMESS) as obtainable in other federal and state health institutions.
Members of the Enugu Urban Residents Association (EURA) who claimed to constitute almost 90 per cent of clientele of the hospital lamented that they had not been able to access the facility for their routine health needs, especially at this period of COVID-19 pandemic ravaging the world.
At a press briefing in Enugu, Tuesday, leader of the group, Samuel Okafor, described the doctors’ action as ill-timed, stressing that even retired health workers were being called out of retirement to render services in various parts of the world to mitigate the global health crisis.
“We do not have any doubts whatsoever that Resident Doctors deserve improved working conditions and to be paid well because of the critical nature of the services they render which have helped to preserve lives and ensure the health of citizens and by implication, assurance of a healthy society. It is because of the importance of their services that compelled the legislature to categorize their services as “essential services” under our extant laws.
“What bothers our members, and indeed every resident of Enugu, is the ill-timing of this strike action given the COVID-19 pandemic that is spreading like wild fire with recorded global death toll put at almost half a million persons. Retired health workers all over the world are leaving the comfort of their homes to return to work as volunteers just to save lives but here in Enugu, our own doctors see this pandemic as an opportunity to arm-twist the government to pay them bogus salaries, forgetting their oath of ethics which places saving lives as number one priority for medical doctors,” Okafor stated.
In the event that the doctors failed to suspend their industrial action, the group further called on the state Government to immediately commence contempt and committal proceedings against them for disobeying a valid and subsisting court order restraining their action.
The group in addition, urged the state Government to immediately employ fresh doctors to make up for the shortfall created by the striking resident doctors.