Obafemi Awolowo University Teaching Hospital, Ile-Ife, Osun State has been described as one of Federal Government facilities that offers comprehensive health care delivery at affordable cost in the South West.
However, ADEBAYO FOLORUNSHO-FRANCIS reports that there is a growing discontent brewing in the tertiary institution over its anti-labour policy that mandates every worker go on maternity leave to lose a substantial chunk of their monthly remuneration to the management.
WuzupNigeria investigation has revealed that the depressing policy has left a scar on many female doctors and health workers who are perpetually in fear of getting pregnant.
Those who conceive dread embarking on maternity leave for fear of having random deduction of their call duty payment.
Their plight was brought to light by the South-West Zone of the Nigeria Medical Association in a statement jointly issued by its Chairman, Dr Ogunlaja Oladayo and the Caucus Secretary, Dr Bolaji Lateef Salako.
The association frowned at the ‘injustice’ meted out to the female health workers, especially its members at the federal facility, by depriving them their call duty allowance while on maternity leave.
*Random salary deduction pitch management against workers*
A call duty allowance, according to the statement, makes up a large chunk of the salary of the average medical professional in federal hospitals and medical centres.
The caucus secretary told our correspondent that it was ‘disgraceful’ to subject young health workers to such severe salary deduction just because they are going on maternity leave.
He said, “We all know call duty makes up a substantial amount of our salary. If other health workers on maternity across the country are paid their full salary, why must OAUTH be different?”
The NMA caucus secretary called on the Federal Government to urgently institute measures that would address the malaise.
*OSUN NMA reacts to lingering crisis*
When contacted, the Osun NMA chairman, Dr Razaq Akindele corroborated Salako’s claim when he reiterated that the body had been inundated with reports about how doctors on maternity leave are denied their call duty pay and the nurses their shift allowance.
“Credit must be given to the present OAUTH management, which has demonstrated a willingness to reverse the trend. However, to be able to achieve this, the chief medical director said they need a go-ahead from the Federal Ministry of Health. That is how far we have gone as the medical body.
“Sadly, it is only this institution that is doing that to its female medical personnel. Are we supposed to punish people for their physiological responsibility? What we are basically saying is that we don’t want women working in FG health facility to get pregnant. That itself is discrimination against women.
“The Lagos State Government has done well by showing exemplary leadership through extension of maternity leave from three to six months with full remuneration. FG must live up to its responsibilities,” Akindele said.
A concerned medical doctor in Osun State, Dr Oladayo Folami, allegedly traced the genesis of the problem to what he described as a face-off between an undisclosed pregnant doctor and wife of the former CMD who also worked at the facility at the time.
According to him, what started as a punitive circular spurred by vengeance soon degenerated into nightmare for young female health workers in the federal facility.
Folami, who is also the Secretary of Osun NMA described that the union had been shuttling frantically between OAUTH and the ministry to get the issue resolved for over a year now.
“It is a very big problem plaguing OAUTH and the female health workers, especially our members. It is not their fault that they got pregnant neither should it be a crime to stay back and nurse an infant. We have discussed it at local, state and national level,” he said.
*Female medical workers union mulls advocacy*
In a related development, the National President of Medical Women’s Association of Nigeria, Dr. Minimie Oseji, believed advocacy was vital to resolve the lingering crisis in the institution.
“It is a result of the interpretation of whatever regulation they are looking at. It is obvious they had an interpretation that is different from other federal institutions on this maternity leave issue.
“However, it requires advocacy for the authority to understand and have the interpretation that will protect the women working there,” she said.
When our correspondent made an effort to get the true position of things at the Federal Ministry of Health, the Director of Hospital Services, Dr Adebimpe Adebiyi declined comment.
“I don’t have permission to speak with the media on this matter. You may need to talk directly with the honourable minister,” she said.
When our correspondent reached out to OAUTH Chief Medical Director, Prof. Victor Adebayo Adetiloye, he was also unwilling to discuss the issue.
When pressed further, he asked the correspondent to send his enquiry via text message.
As of the time of filing in this report, Adetiloye neither replied the SMS nor pick any calls concerning the issue.