By Raymond Ekemini
As the strike by members of the Joint Health Sector Union, JOHESU which started on the 16th of November 2014, enters its third month, medical students in the University of Calabar have cried out about the adverse effect of the strike on their academics.
Speaking to the our reporter, some of the students decried the lingering strike and called on feuding parties to quickly resolve their differences in the interest of the students.
A fourth year student of the medical laboratory science department, Blessing Akpan said the strike has denied them the opportunity of embarking on their three months intensive laboratory posting and inbuilt internship, which is always done by fourth year students of medical laboratory science at the University of Calabar Teaching Hospital, but due to the strike all the laboratories have been closed for over two months now.
Another fourth year student of Nursing Science, Idara Effiong joined her counterpart in the medical laboratory science department to lament that the strike has prolonged her years of graduation. She said her ward round posting could not be completed since the nurses are on strike and appealed to the government to look into the grievances of the medical workers.
Also speaking, a final year student of Histopathology, Johnson Daniel also decried the exorbitant expenses he has incurred as a result of embarking on his research work in private laboratories due to the ongoing strike. He revealed that the private laboratories are taking advantage of the strike to extort students and staff who come to their laboratory to analyze samples.
He concluded that he is afraid that this year’s set of graduates may lack the practical experiences since they couldn’t complete their posting in the laboratories.
Meanwhile, apart from the effects of the strike on the students, the strike has also affected the hospitals, as most of the federal hospitals have lost many of their patients to the private clinics due the closure of the laboratories, because the life of a patient is either won or lost in the laboratories, where diagnosis are done.
Also the patients who visit privates laboratories are made to pay high charges to run their tests and analysis, when compared to the prices paid at the teaching hospitals.
The strike has also opened way for quackery, as private laboratories may lack the needed equipment to analyze and diagnose diseases and infections.
The unions under the auspices of the Joint Health Sector Union, JOHESU include the Medical and Health Workers Unions of Nigeria, National Association of Nigerian Nurses and Midwives, and the Senior Staff Association of Universities, Teaching Hospitals, Research Institutions and Associated Institutions.
Others are the Nigeria Union of Pharmacists, Technologists and Professions Allied to Medicine and the Non-Academic Staff Union of Educational and Associated Institutions.
The workers, who have been at loggerheads with the government since November 16, are demanding among other contentious issues, the implementation of the National Industrial Court judgment.
The Court, in its judgment, held that JOESHU members should continue to skip Consolidated Health Salary Structure, that specialists allowance should be paid to JOHESU, and that JOHESU members should continue to be recognized as consultants, while retirement age of health workers be reviewed upward from 60 to 65 years of age.
They are also seeking a change of section 5 of the National Health Bill, which deals with the composition of the National Council of Health.
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