Poised to see to the peaceful end of the ongoing nationwide strike of health workers, under the umbrella of Joint Health Sector Union (JOHESU) which has crippled activities in some public hospitals, the leadership of the Pharmaceutical Society of Nigeria (PSN) has urged the Federal Government to embrace Universal Salary Scale for all health workers, medical doctors inclusive.
The PSN maintained that a restructuring of the wage pattern is imperative presently; as it will give preferential entry point to those who have longer duration of training to enable them enter at higher steps on the Universal Salary Scale as a permanent intervention.
The PSN President, Pharm. Ahmed Yakasai made this submission in his letter to President Muhammadu Buhari, while calling for a halt in the spate of industrial strike actions in the health sector.
In the letter titled “Request to halt the spate of strikes in the health sector”, Yakasai went down the memory lane to trace the root of strikes in the health sector, attributing it to the disparity in wage structure initially introduced by the Olikoye-Kuti leadership in the Federal Ministry of Health, during the military administration of Gen. Ibrahim Babangida.
The letter reads in part: “Your Excellency, it is important to draw you back memory lane that contrary to the superiority mentality created in some quarters, pharmacists and doctors entered the public service on the same grade level up till 1991. In Nigeria, pharmacists started on GL 08 step 2, while doctors entered on GL 08 step 3 because of the one year difference in the duration of training.
“After the mandatory one year youth service, pharmacists proceeded to GL 09 step 2 and doctor GL 09 step 3. This was the pattern till the Olikoye-Kuti leadership in the Federal Ministry of Health got the military administration of Gen. Ibrahim Babangida to approve the Medical Salary Scale (MSS), a discriminatory salary wage in favour of medical doctors in public service.
“The MSS obviously disrupted the equilibrium of public sector wages as it became the basis for other sectoral players request for exclusive wages in the health sector after the MSS was introduced, the Health Salary Scale was introduced for health workers apart from doctors”.
He further recalled how the Federal Ministry of Health in 2009 approved new salary scales for doctors and other health workers respectively. A CONMESS scale was approved for medical doctors, while CONHESS was the scale of choice for health workers including the rank and file of all health professionals.
However, he noted that the bone of contention was the distortion in salary structure which has been placing the CONMESS far above CONHESS. Unfortunately, he said this was contrary to the motive of introducing the salary scales.”The fundamental spirit of the adoption of CONMESS and CONHESS scale in 2009 was to ensure parity in the two scales at all times”.
The PSN President observed with dismay that while doctors have enjoyed incremental adjustment on their CONMESS twice, the government is yet to implement same to CONHESS, an act he describes as unfair to others.
Thus to end this disharmony in the health sector, he prayed the Federal Government to restructure the wage pattern to fit into one universal scale which gives preferential entry point to those who have longer duration of training to enable them enter at higher steps on the Universal Salary Scale as a permanent intervention.
He also requested the immediate release of the enabling circular to adjust the CONHESS scale like was done with CONMESS in 2014 and 2017.
Similarly, he has requested from Mr President , the issuance of the circular that legitimises the consultancy cadre for pharmacists in public service as approved by the National Council on Establishment.