Following the announced commencement of an indefinite strike by resident doctors of Chukwuemeka Odumegwu Ojukwu University Teaching Hospital on Monday, the Anambra State governor, Chief Willie Obiano, has said that the industrial action by the doctors was unfair.
The governor, who spoke through the Commissioner for Information & Public Enlightenment, Mr C.Don Adinuba in a press release made available to journalists in Awka, said the strike would have no effect on the government, but on the people of the state, and would cast a slur on the Hippocratic oath sworn to by the doctors.
The statement reads, “This strike is a profound disservice to the people of Anambra State. Governor Willie Obiano did promise a review of their salary to make it more competitive. However, in view of the ongoing national effort at salary review across the board, the Anambra State Government explained to the Resident Doctors that it would be untidy to review their salary alone last month, only to do another review for them once the salary review of other public servants is concluded.
“This situation was well conveyed to the doctors through the Honourable Commissioner for Health, Dr Joe Akabuike. More than any other group of Ndi Anambra, the Resident Doctors at the state Teaching Hospital should exhibit great understanding of what the present administration’s commitment to the growth of the hospital and its workforce.”
Adinuba said that the teaching hospital in time past could not be accredited by the Medical and Dental Registration Council of Nigeria, thus making the undergraduate medical students stay in school for a whole eight years without obtaining the basic medical degree and without any hope of obtaining the licence.
He said things changed when Obiano was elected governor and he immediately went out of his way to provide sufficient funds for the teaching hospital to procure all necessary equipment and regents, and hire more qualified staff as well as motivate the staff members and consultants in a special way.
The statement continued, “The teaching hospital was quickly accredited by the Medical and Dental Registration Council of Nigeria, and it produced its first set of medical doctors. Gov Obiano gave automatic employment to all the new doctors.
“He provided greater funds which were so judiciously utilized that the same hospital, which could not graduate young doctors just a few years ago, was approved for training of medical consultants. Some of the graduates of the medical school are today Resident Doctors in the teaching hospital, and they are unbelievably among the striking doctors.”
The commissioner said Medicine was a great vocation, and that medical doctors have throughout world history been recognised as a group whose members lay down their lives for the benefit of humanity.
He said the Nigerian law recognised them to be on essential service, and should not down tools at every given point, and if there was need to, there were laid down procedures which must be followed.
“There is, unfortunately, no indication that the Association of Resident Doctors at Chukwuemeka Odumegwu Ojukwu Teaching Hospital followed due process on embarking on the ongoing strike.
“Anambra is a state governed by law and due process, and our people expect all individuals and organizations in our midst to show exemplary behavior in all things, in keeping with the culture of excellence evolving in Anambra State.
“In the name of the people of Anambra State, we appeal to the Association of Resident Doctors at Odumegwu Ojukwu Teaching Hospital, Awka, to return to work immediately. We appeal to the doctors in the name of the Hippocratic Oath they have taken to save life to continue to work for the common good.
“We appeal to the doctors to give the Anambra State Government time to conclude essential work on the new national minimum wage before it could start paying Resident Doctors a new and separate salary structure,” the statement added.