No fewer than 200 doctors in Lagos State have contracted coronavirus (COVID-19) in the line of duty.
This is according to the Medical Guild in its response to an earlier statement from the state government on the ongoing warning strike by doctors in the state.
In a statement jointly signed by the association’s Chairman and Secretary, Dr Oluwajimi Sodipo and Dr Ismail Ajibowo, on Tuesday, the group said the government was aware of the situation.
It decried that while members were committed to their duties, a large number of those who tested positive have infected members of their families.
The guild also accused the government of making attempts to portray it as being unprofessional and casting untrue impression that the strike was masterminded by a few members of the association.
It, however, stressed that the association has an objective to cater for the welfare of its members and provide world-class medical services to the people.
According to the statement, the guild has been seeking priority testing for all healthcare workers and patients on admission in hospitals.
It explained that this was necessary to improve the provision of safe medical services, but the government had ignored its call – one of the reasons for the decision to go on strike.
The statement comes a day after the Commissioner for Information and Strategy in Lagos, Gbenga Omotoso, faulted the decision of the doctors to go on strike and asked them to return to work.
He had accused the association of making wrong claims, stressing that the government had been extremely supportive of health workers, especially those at the forefront in the fight against COVID-19.
Read the full statement from the Medical Guild below:
PRESS RELEASE AS A RESPONSE TO THE RELEASE BY THE LAGOS STATE MINISTRY OF INFORMATION ON THE MEDICAL GUILD 3 DAY WARNING STRIKE
The Medical Guild wants to use this medium to respond to the Press release of the 13th July 2020 by the Ministry of Information on the 3-day warning strike which started on the13th of July 2020.
The association noted with regrets the attempts to paint the association as being unprofessional and casting untrue impression that the strike is being masterminded by a few members of the Medical Guild.
The Medical Guild is a professional body with well-skilled members, an affiliate of NMA with the aim of catering for the welfare of its members and providing world-class medical services to Lagosians, Nigerians, and foreigners.
Since its inception in 1926, it has been at the forefront of innovative strides and collaborative efforts with Government on the issue of health sector development and progress. The Guild attempted all within its powers to prevent the strike.
We start by drawing the attention of the government that more than 200 medical doctors who are members of the Guild have been infected with COVID-19, many of whom also infected their families with attendant short and long-term complications. This is a testament to our desire to serve our patients and our calling.
The Guild had also been at the forefront of advocating for priority testing for all health care workers and patients on admission in hospitals so as to up scale provision of safe medical services, suggestions which had been largely jettisoned until the declaration of strike action.
On the specific issues raised about the wages, salaries, and emoluments, we are happy that the LASG has now agreed that our federal counterparts in the same state earn much more than doctors working with Lagos State and this situation has been going on for years without a definitive action from government to bridge the gaps.
Apart from the fact that there are security implications of releasing remuneration of employees publicly, the LASG has maintained that they have no agreement with the COVID-19 volunteers at the isolation centre, hence government has been paying any amount deemed fit, usually after agitations.
The Federal Government on the other hand had earlier engaged the various medical/health associations in discussions and came up with a negotiated agreement and we expect the same to be done to our members in Lagos State, especially as we are the epicentre of the COVID-19 pandemic in Nigeria.
The increased hazard allowance which was quoted as being increased by over 400 percent translates to an increase from 5,000 naira to 25,000 naira.
We assure that our principal objective is to get the necessary attention of Mr Governor to resolve these challenges in order to continue the peaceful harmonious relationship with government for the delivery of qualitative healthcare services to the populace with positive development in the health sector.
Our motto had been to present, engage, negotiate, and then implement which is the only panacea to preventing disruption of services in the health sector.
We will continue to do all we can to deescalate the situation and continue discussion and negotiations with government, especially at this time of COVID-19, while urging the relevant ministries and agencies of government to imbibe the spirit of engagement and negotiation so that Lagosians can continue to enjoy uninterrupted healthcare services delivery.
We conclude by appreciating the efforts of Mr Governor, Mr Babajide Olusola Sanwo-Olu and other eminent Lagosians like the First Lady, Dr (Mrs) Ibijoke Sanwo-Olu; His Royal Highness, the Oba of Lagos, Oba Rilwan Akiolu; Head of Service, Mr Hakeem Muri-Okunola, and well-meaning Nigerians.
Dr Oluwajimi Sodipo
Dr Ismail Ajibowo