The Lagos State chapter of the National Association of Nigeria Nurses and Midwives has declared a three-day warning strike in demand for better working conditions from the state government.
The strike, which will take effect from Monday, January 9 to Wednesday, 12, 2022, was announced by the Chairman of the State chapter, Comrade Julius Awojide, in a statement at an emergency congress in Lagos on Saturday.
Awojide, who lamented government’s insensitivity to the plight of nurses in the state, 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.
“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 and the issues discussed continue to cause great suffering to our members, and by extension to the public,” he added.
He added that the warning strike was necessary to inform the government that nurses would no longer be overworked, undervalued and underpaid without any consequences adding that the poor working conditions of nurses in the state had resulted in the mass emigration of professional nurses to better climes.
“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.”
Lamenting the excess workload experienced by nurses in the state, Awojide said the massive brain drain have led to an increased workload on nurses in the state, adding that replacement-on-exit policy had been rendered ineffective by the inability to easily find replacements.
“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.