The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) has condemned what it described as the “tragic killing” of its colleague Saifura Hussaini Ahmed Khorsa, who was abducted by Boko Haram insurgents in March.
The head of the ICRC delegation in Abuja, Eloi Fillion, in a statement on Monday said, “We are devastated by the murder of our colleague Saifura,”.
“Saifura moved to Rann to selflessly help those in need. Our thoughts are with her family and other loved ones at this incredibly difficult time.”
The agency also appealed to the armed group to immediately release the second ICRC midwife and another health-care worker who were also abducted in March.
“We urge those still holding our colleague Hauwa and Alice: release these women. Like Saifura, they are not part of the fight. They are a midwife and a nurse. They are daughters, a wife, and a mother – women with families that depend on them,” said Fillion.
“Their families and friends miss them dearly and will not give up the hope of seeing them again soon. There is no ideology or religious law that could justify doing any harm to them,” she added.
Saifura, 25, was a devoted midwife and mother of two.
The ICRC, however, said it would not give details of her death or comment on the identity of the women’s abductors as well as their motives.
The agency said in the past six months of their abduction, it has made sustained and committed efforts to secure the release of all three workers.
It, however, said it will continue to do everything in its power to ensure that Hauwa and Alice are released and can return to their families immediately.
Workers of the College of Health Technology Calabar, (COHTECH) have taken to major streets of the Cross River state capital, demanding the implementation of a seven-year-old salary scale which was approved in 2011.
The protesting workers include members of the Academic Staff Union of Polytechnic (ASUP) and the Senior Staff Association of Nigerian Polytechnics (SSANIP).
According to them, COHTECH remains the only tertiary institution in the state that is yet to benefit from the Consolidated Polytechnics and Colleges of Education Academic Salary Structure, (CONPCASS).
In order to ensure their demands are met, the two unions on Wednesday shut down the school located at Mary-Slessor in Calabar as they commenced a three-day warning strike.
They also took their protest to the Government House, where they were addressed by the state’s Special Adviser on Labour and Productivity, Mr Effiong Ita Umo.
He assured them that the state government will the matter and appealed to them to be patient.
Senate President Bukola Saraki will meet the leadership of the Joint Health Sector Unions for the second time on Monday, as the Senate continues its quest to halt the lingering strike embarked by health workers under the aegis of the union.The Senate President’s media office said the meeting will hold in Dr Saraki’s office by 3 pm.
Dr Saraki also confirmed the meeting via tweets.
“Following my meeting last Friday with the Ministers of Labour and Health, I will be having a follow up meeting tomorrow with the leadership of JOHESU, the second in under a week,” he tweeted.
The health workers had embarked on strike in April, accusing the Federal Government of failing to honour terms of agreements it reached JOHESU since 2009, especially the agreement reached on September 30, 2017, which had a time frame of five weeks.
As part of efforts to end the lingering strike which has pitched JOHESU against the NMA, the Senate President held a meeting with JOHESU’s and the Minister of Labour, Productivity and Employment, Dr.Chris Ngige and Minister of Health, Professor Issac Adewole, on Friday morning.
Since the meeting, the Senate President hinted that some progress had been made to bring the strike to an end as reports suggest the Federal Government has made a better offer to the union.
He said, “If it is true that government has improved on its offers to JOHESU, it will be desirable for the health workers to also stretch out a hand of fellowship – in good faith – to meet the government mid-way and accept the offer, so that we can finally resolve this matter and have a win-win situation for the union, the government and the Nigerian people who make use of our public health institutions.”
Dr Saraki’s meeting with the striking workers followed the resolution on May15, 2018, to intervene in the crisis which it observed could hamper Nigeria’s ability to prevent or react to another Ebola virus outbreak in Nigeria.
The concerns followed the Ebola outbreak in Congo.
The Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) says the refusal by President Muhammadu Buhari to address the devastating strike action by health workers across the country, is a clear manifestation of insensitivity to the plight and suffering of Nigerians.
In a statement signed by its National Publicity Secretary, Kola Ologbondiyan, the Party lamented the anguish of hundreds of Nigerians who it said were abandoned and dying by the day in public hospitals.
“Is it not the height of insensitivity that while Nigerians in dire need of medical attention are languishing, President Buhari abandoned them without any form of intervention and embarked on medical tourism in London with our common patrimony,” the PDP questioned.
The party also criticized the President for failing to summon an emergency meeting to find solutions to the problems even after his return from the UK. They said he rather chose to organise a political rally in Jigawa state for what it described as a “doomed 2019 re-election bid”.
Furthermore, it blamed the “escalation of killings and bloodletting” in states across the country on the “aloofness by the government” saying unlike the APC, the PDP prioritizes the health, security and welfare of Nigerians.
The statement read in part: “In the PDP, the health, security and welfare of Nigerians remain pivotal to us and that is why we feel pained that compatriots are dying in their numbers because of the refusal of the Buhari-led APC administration to address the health workers’ strike.”
It, therefore, asserted that Nigerians have chosen to stop the Buhari administration from continuing beyond 2019 as it had become clear that it “has no agenda for the health sector”.
The PDP also called on humanitarian organisations and the international community to come to the aid of the nation.
Furthermore, it pleaded with the health workers to be more open to ways to solve the problem, so as to “forestall an outbreak of epidemic and health crisis”.
The National Primary Healthcare Development Agency (NPHCDA) has revealed plans to engage at least 100,000 health workers under the Community Health Influencers, Promoters and Services (CHIPS) programme.
The Executive Director of NPHCDA, Dr Faisal Shuaib, who disclosed this on Tuesday in Kaduna State, said the plan was aimed at reducing the high rate of maternal and child deaths in the country.
Addressing a meeting of the Northern Traditional Leaders’ Committee on Primary Healthcare Delivery, he stressed that the deployment of healthcare agents to rural communities became necessary as Nigeria loses about one million women and children to preventable medical conditions annually.
Dr Shuaib blamed the deaths on the absence of trained medical personnel and adequate facilities in the affected communities.
The meeting was convened to review the progress made in the reduction of child and maternal deaths in 2017, and to develop high priority intervention in rural communities in 2018.
Part of the strategies agreed at the gathering was to adopt a community-based programme where individuals with basic criteria would be trained and deployed to attend to basic medical needs of the people in their communities.
The NPHCDA boss informed the committee that President Muhammadu Buhari had directed that the programme should be held in every state of the federation.
“We have a total of almost 10,000 wards in Nigeria and by calculations, we would be getting nearly 200,000 CHIP agents spread across Nigeria and this would be the largest aggregations of community health workers anywhere in Africa,” he said.
“Every year, up to a million women and children under five (years) die from the totally preventable cause; our women die during pregnancy and our kids are dying from preventable courses such as malaria, pneumonia, diarrhoea and these deaths happen before individuals get to the clinic or any health facility.
“These CHIP agents will be living and working in these communities to find out how community members are doing and where people are found to be sick, they can diagnose and give free medication to the community members,” he added.
On his part, the deputy chairman of the committee Mr Samila Mera decried the high rate of maternal and newborn deaths as a national tragedy which requires concerted effort to tackle.
He, however, assured Dr Shuaib that the traditional institution would key into the government’s initiative, in order to reduce the burden of such avoidable calamities on their people.
United States officials on Thursday announced the creation of a new office to protect the religious rights of medical providers who refuse to perform procedures they say are against their beliefs, such as abortion.
The office, part of the Department of Health and Human Services’ Civil Rights division, is also aimed at supporting health care professionals who oppose procedures such as gender reassignment operations.
President Donald Trump “promised the American people that his administration would vigorously uphold the rights of conscience and religious freedom. That promise is being kept today,” said acting HHS Secretary Eric Hargan, as he announced the new Conscience and Religious Freedom Division.
Groups that support abortion and the rights of sexual minorities fear this could result in discrimination in access to medical treatment.
“No one should be denied health care — including safe, legal abortion — because of their health provider’s beliefs,” said Planned Parenthood, which provides legal abortions.
“Trans people already face obstacles to getting care,” the non-profit group said in a statement.
The new government office was announced on the eve of Friday’s “March for Life,” an annual rally in Washington that attracts abortion opponents from across the country.
Trump will address the marchers via video link, the White House said Wednesday.
The March for Life marks an anniversary which infuriates its participants — the Supreme Court’s historic ruling on “Roe v. Wade,” which legalized abortion across the United States in 1973.
The Federal Government is currently holding another conciliatory meeting with striking health workers.
This second conciliatory meeting is holding after the first meeting which was held on September 27, ended in deadlock.
The meeting is chaired by the Minister of Labour and Employment, Chris Ngige. Ngige and his Ministry of Health-counterpart, Professor Isaac Adewole, are said to be absent at the meeting today. They are represented by the Minister of State for Labour and the Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Health.
There appears not to be any headway in the negotiation between the Federal Government and the striking health workers in the country.
At the end of their reconciliation meeting in Abuja, which was chaired by the Federal Minister of Labour and Employment, Chris Ngige and Health Minister, Issac Adewole, both parties differed over the legality of the ongoing industrial action by the Joint Health Sector Union (JOHESU).
While the Minister of Labour criticised the health workers for not following the provisions of existing labour laws, the union insists that no labour law has been violated by their action.
“Workers that are in Energy, Medicine, and Allied medical professionals and those that their action will cause danger to health are the people that are called essential services. For those who are in essential services, Doctors, pharmacists, nurses, technologists and those who have anything to do with the hospital are on essential service.
“So, when those who are in essential services go on strike, like the doctors did about four weeks ago, and you following suit, it gives us a lot of worry, especially when those strikes are not done according to the labour law,” Ngige said.
The Union in response disagreed with the Labour Minister saying, they violated no law with them saying, “We waited patiently for 30 days. We notified the government. After 30 days, we still gave 7 days and that was the final ultimatum.”
The union is demanding among other issues, that the government pay earned salary arrears of their members.