The Association of Resident Doctors, University of Nigeria teaching Hospital, Ituku Ozalla, Enugu State recommenced total and indefinite strike action on Friday, 16th October, 2015 to press home our various demands which border on the inability of the Chief Medical Director (CMD) of UNTH, Dr Christopher C. Amah to maintain an acceptable level of sincerity and uprightness in the management of affairs of the hospital.
The current CMD has destroyed what is left of UNTH through corruption and gross insensitivity to the plights of the patients and staff of the hospital. His incompetence, corrupt practices and high handedness has reached the level that can no longer be condoned by doctors in UNTH.
The CMD’s continued boast/brag that he can neither be sacked nor queried by the President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria irrespective of how long any group remains on strike has become an issue for the listening ear of President Muhammadu Buhari and the general public.
1) Gross and unimaginable degeneration of hospital facilities and quality of services
It is not exactly out of place to classify UNTH as a death trap, because it barely has what it takes to qualify for a primary healthcare facility, say for manpower. As it is now, a UNTH that is on strike is more beneficial to the masses than a UNTH that is not, this is because a working UNTH exposes both patients to untold and unimaginable risks and health hazards.
A situation where common medical diagnostic equipment, as simple as sample bottles for blood and urine collection, syringes and needles are unavailable, is most appalling to say the least. Dying patients are forced to travel a distance of over 20kilometres to private facilities to access these basic investigations. The laboratories in UNTH lack appropriate reagents and equipment to conduct basic and near complex laboratory investigations despite having very well trained laboratory physicians and scientists ready to offer these services.
A hospital as big and supposedly prestigious as UNTH cannot offer continuous x-ray services for 3 consecutive days in week, forcing patients to leave the hospital for an investigation as basic as this. More sophisticated equipment are acquired through dubious means and sabotaged thereafter, such that equipment like CT Scan Machines and Radiotherapy machines are available in the hospital but in a non-functional state for months now. These patients who obviously have no choice are forced to either move to Enugu urban, over several kilometers away, to access CT-Scan and MRI or even travel as far as UCH Ibadan, LUTH Lagos, and National Hospital Abuja to get radiotherapy services for the treatment of cancers.
Most patients who come in with mild to moderate injuries/ailments, become victims of UNTH by the time they are tussled and ruffled down to Enugu urban, over 40 kilometers, to access these basic and almost mandatory investigations which has epileptic and unstable availability in UNTH. Many of these patients either die in transit or have their injuries/ailments further complicated and worsened, while the health workers look on helplessly, most of them afraid of speaking up for fear of victimization. The hopelessness of the situation has created job dissatisfaction for health workers, with some of them being inpatient to retire and ago, feeling in part responsible for these demises.
Even sheets for taking clinical notes, forms for drug prescriptions and laboratory requests are most times nowhere to be found in UNTH. In some cases especially for laboratory forms, patients are given that one remaining copy to photocopy compulsorily before submitting samples to the labs.
Poor and dilapidated state of the consulting rooms and hospital wards are better imagined than experienced. Bed bugs, rodents and even reptiles thrive in these areas. Torn insect proofing on windows have not been changed for a long period of time, ensuring adequate spread of insect borne diseases across board. As we write, there are no bathrooms in the wards in UNTH, patients and their relatives are forced to take their baths in the open bush surrounding the hospital complex. Males and females, old and young are all subjected to this most dehumanizing condition. Patient relatives who come in healthy most times go home with malaria and other contagious diseases.
With a heavy heart, we inform Nigerians that as at today, there is no available running water in the major areas of the hospital. For example, the general and private wards, clinics and laboratories, despite the much ado by the hospital management that they have sunk ultra-modern boreholes in the hospital, do not have available running water. Even theatres do not have access to running waters, as such scrubbing before surgeries are improvised in a hospital supposedly as prestigious as UNTH.
Most disheartening, patients in UNTH are forced to draw water from a relatively shallow well as old as the name UNTH itself for their basic needs. The implication of this on the health of the patients and their relatives who use it should be better imagined. Even primary health care centres have moved beyond in line with the Millennium Development Goals.
So far, we are happy to inform Nigerians that following our cry out and in a desperate attempt to cover his numerous ills and acts, Dr C. C. Amah brought in borehole drillers on Tuesday, 20th October, 2015 to continue the abandoned borehole project. It pains us that Dr C. C. Amah would wait till services are withdrawn before doing the needful. In this, we are happy that our cry out to and for the masses has already started yielding results.
Basic and emergency drugs are not always available at the pharmacies as patients travel these same distances to assess drugs prescribed for them from private pharmacy outlets in Enugu town. Many patients die due to unavailability of emergency drugs in the emergency rooms. Most times, doctors and other health workers have to contend with unavailability of hand gloves and even methylated spirit for months, without explanation, with resultant stress being transferred to patients and their relatives. Several reports by Heads of Departments and their representatives on these pressing issues to the Dr C. C. Amah led hospital administration have been to no appreciable or palpable avail. The risks which medical and health workers in UNTH are subjected to, the travails they pass through in a bid to provide healthcare services in UNTH is quite enormous, and has now been pushed beyond limit.
This has greatly affected negatively, the outcome of patients being treated in the hospital when compared to those treated in private hospitals in Enugu. This has also most negatively affected the training and psyche of resident doctors and medical students, and has led to the loss of accreditation of the Medical and Dental Council and the National and West African Postgraduate medical colleges in different departments, particularly Paediatrics and Dentistry.
The fact that UNTH has become grazing grounds for cattle is no longer news. UNTH has become an abode for animals, both wild and domestic, due of the gross irresponsibility of the UNTH management to sustain the proper level of grasses around the main hospital complex and staff quarters. While patients and UNTH staff are exposed to all forms of infections being transmitted by these animals, others are exposed to the deadly attacks of wild animals especially snakes and scorpions.
To be continued…
NOTE: This is a press release by the Association of Resident Doctors, UNTH Branch