Real reasons behind the indefinite strike recently embarked upon by the Nigerian Medical Association Imo State branch have finally been unraveled, Nigerian Newsguide can authoritatively report. Our reporter who has kept a tab on the whole impasse between Imo State Government and these striking doctors gathered that aside non-commencement and implementation of the Consolidated Medical Salary Structure (CONMESS) by Imo government alongside loss of accreditation for College of Medicine at Imo State University Teaching Hospital leading to endless stay of medical students at the college, the Nigerian Medical Association (NMA) is deeply saddened that most of its members working in various state owned hospitals and establishments are owed backlog of salary arrears running into eight to ten months and still counting.
According to pieces of information and documents availed to us, while most doctors are receiving between 55-75 percent of their salaries since this year in most LGAs and MDAs, others have never received a penny in the past ten (10) months, a situation they claimed has turned the affected doctors to beggars and parasites of sort to their family members.
A document sighted by our reporter and duly signed by the Chairman NMA Imo State Dr Chidiebere Okwara and secretary Dr Kingsley Nwafor indicated that the current industrial action will not cease until government meets their demands. The demands include: immediate payment of doctors salaries with CONMESS, 2011 structure, arrears inclusive, That Imo state government should immediately commence 100% payment of doctors at IMSUTH Orlu, Specialist Hospital Umuguma, Hospitals Management Board, Ministry of Health, LGA’s and other agencies with the current Doctors salary structure as done in other states in Nigeria and FCT Abuja. The doctors also demand payment of special covid-19 allowances to all doctors who risked their lives and were at the fore-front during the fight against the pandemic.
NMA equally is asking the government to immediately swing into action to restore accreditation at the College of Medicine, IMSUTH Orlu both undergraduate and post graduate including domestication of the Residency Training Act.
According to the document, the infrastructure deficit at IMSUTH particularly road leading to the teaching hospital must be made motorable without further delay. The striking doctors lastly demanded from the government, a stop to the seemingly endless harassment of medical doctors in private practice by the Revenue officers of the state via multiple taxation, registration, etc pending the harmonization of a consolidated tax structure for all hospitals in the state.
“One of our doctors in General hospital has been receiving ₦45,000 only as salary since this year, many of us are now beggars because of peanuts we get as salaries due to huge shortfalls in our remunerations”- a doctor angrily told our medium.
Meantime, some hospitals visited by our reporter in parts of Owerri, Orlu and Okigwe weekend painted a picture of a sorry and pitiable state of patients who are now at the receiving end of the whole impasse. No doctor was seen in some of the hospitals visited viz Umuguma Specialist Hospital Owerri, General hospital Ihitte-Uboma and Teaching Hospital Orlu, nurses and other health professionals on duty were actually not enough and capacitated to handle all the cases.
Some patients who spoke to our reporter in tears however pleaded with Gov. Hope Uzodimma to quickly resolve whatever issue government has with NMA. “Some of us have been visiting the hospitals since two days now, but cannot be attended to by any doctor. If this strike continues, may be by next week, corpses will litter our streets because some terribly bad ones among us, really need urgent intensive care. Gov. Uzodimma should please consider our lives which are in danger now and resolve the matter with NMA”.