MEMBERS of the Association of Hospital and Administrative Pharmacists of Nigeria (AHAPN) have threatened to embark on a nationwide strike action over the federal government’s unwillingness meet their demands over the Covid-19 pandemic.
AHAPN, the umbrella body of pharmacists practicing in hospitals, clinics, the health ministry and health agencies has over 5,000 members in the country. It has been at loggerheads with the federal government over the risks its members are exposed to as a result of the pandemic and the conditions of service which they work under.
Dr Kingsley Amibor, the AHAPN chairman, said some of its demands include the restructuring of the health sector, adjustment of the Consolidated Health Salary Structure (Conhess), paying Covid-19 hazard allowance, providing personal protective equipment (PPE) for pharmacists and other healthcare workers, as well as the payment of April and May 2018 salary arrears for pharmacists and some category of healthcare workers.
He added: “The federal government in 2014 adjusted the Consolidated Medical Salary Structure (Conmess) table for medical doctors and has since adjusted it twice without a single adjustment for pharmacists and other healthcare professionals. It is worthy of note that in 2008, there was a job evaluation in the healthcare sector which gave rise to Conhess and Conmess, taking into cognisance, relativity in salary and allowances.
“This is a recommendation that was intended to reduce the level of acrimony in the healthcare sector. Sadly, this recommendation was partially adopted with the adjustments to Conmess without relative adjustment of Conhess.”
Dr Amibor said the government should immediately adjust Conhess as has been continuously canvassed by pharmacists and other healthcare workers, in order to avoid needless strike actions and disruptions in service delivery in the healthcare sector. He also said government’s refusal to register AHANP as a trade union was unfortunate, adding that it has applied severally to no avail.
“Virtually every other healthcare professional with the exception of very few and pharmacists who practice in about 20 federal health institutions have not been paid the arrears to date. We have written several letters to government on this issue without any positive response yet.
“We call upon government to release these arrears since it was captured in the 2020 budget and provisions have been made for it. We call on government to provide adequate PPEs for pharmacists and other healthcare workers who are at the front line of the Covid-19 pandemic control efforts.
“Additionally, we wish to remind government to honour her decision to pay enhanced hazard allowance to healthcare workers since March, 2020. This pronouncement has not translated into tangible result yet,” Dr Amibor added.
He said the association was also using the opportunity to register its displeasure over the non-inclusion of pharmacists at the recent meeting between the government and representatives of the different unions in the healthcare sector. Describing the action as distasteful, he called on the federal government to urgently address the issues raised, as its unwillingness would mean the association would have no choice than to press home its demands through industrial action.