Continuing strike paralyses hospitals, brand new hospital burns and newly equipped hospitals not working…


Almost every week I promise myself to TRY HARD to blog about a posivite story in the Nigerian health scene…but somehow I hardly get there. I WILL TRY. But sadly, this week…again I dont have much good news.

It is most difficult for many of us to imagine the costs in human lives of all the public tertiary facilities in Nigeria being paralysed because of a strike by medical doctors under the auspices of the National Association of Resident Doctors (NARD).

To many that do undertand the issues, an Editorial of The Guardian titled: Doctors strike- Matters arrising throws some light on the issues.

To make this easy…I’ve tried to identify the issues as these are often “lost in translation”

1. A recent salary review of all health workers in tertiary institutions is said to have led to a reduction in the “take-home-pay of doctors”.

2. A reduction in the call duty allowances of doctors.

3. Doctors want the introduction of a Medical Salary Scale (MSS) as the basis for the remuneration of medical and dental practitioners in the country.

4. Creation of the position of Surgeon-General of the Federation.

5. Establishment of a Medical Service Commission

Are these enough for a nationwide strike? You tell me…

To ponder that question, we need to think about the cost…in lives.
Thisday reports: Doctors’ Strike Takes Toll on Patients that eight patients on admission have died as a result of the current strike embarked upon by resident doctorsin the University of Port Harcourt Teaching Hospital(UPTH).

BUT WHY DOES IT HAVE TO A STRIKE. The doctors say that they have been trying to get the agreement of Government on all these issues for months. The Government has been quiet (at least in the press) on its own side of the story. BUT other professions are waiting in the wings on how the Federal Government will respond. In this story in The Punch, phamarcists ask the FGN not to relent, threatening to mobilise other health workers for an indefinite strike action if the Federal Government acceded to the demand of doctors.


Last week VANGUARD reported: Fire guts ultra-modern Bulunkutu Hospital

The Governor Ali Modu Sheriff who was said to be visibly angry, said he suspected sabotage by the enemies of his administration! Fire brigade? you might ask….well they were not mentioned.

Then interestingly, the BBC gave a bit more insight into the fire. The General Hospital in Maiduguri was built in 2006 but the state government refused to open it until the president came to cut the ribbon. The governor had refused to open the hospital, which was ready for patients in June 2006, until former President Olusegun Obasanjo came to the state. His visit was postponed several times, the last being just two months before the election in 2007. His successor Umaru Yar’adua was due to visit later next month. …the rest as they say…is history.

Finally…The Guardian reports that Dr. Millicent Obajimi, of the Department of Radiology of the University College Hospital (UCH), Ibadan, Nigeria’s foremost University Teaching Hospital lamented that the state-of- the-art equipment including a Mammography machine supplied by Vamed Engineering as part of the upgrading exercise of the hospital are not worked since installation in 2004. he said this when members of the House of Representatives Committee on Health came visiting.

…any more questions on why the $100/barrel cost of oil is not benefitting the people?

One story that might (or not) be called good news is in the vanguard…which reports that Nnamdi Azikiwe University, a State Government owned institution has acquired 15 Percent Shares in proposed American Hospital. While there are some forseable benefits in this arrangements, it also shows the almost total abdication of responsibility of the public sector. But we will hold unto this story of hope..


Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful committed people can change the world; indeed it is the only thing that ever has…Margaret Mead

Chikwe Ihekweazu is an epidemiologist and consultant public health physician. He is the Editor of Nigeria Health Watch, and the Managing Partner of EpiAfric (, which provides expertise in public health research and advisory services, health communication and professional development. He previously held leadership roles at the South African National Institute for Communicable Diseases and the UK's Health Protection Agency. Chikwe has undertaken several short term consultancies for the World Health Organisation, mainly in response to major outbreaks. He is a TED Fellow and co-curator of TEDxEuston.

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