Raymond Ozoji, Awka
The Anambra state branch of the Nigerian Medical Association (NMA) has described the plight of general hospitals in the state as unfit and not conducive for patients due to what the association termed bushy environments, lack of electricity at nights, lack of doctors, shortage of other medical personnel and a host of other issues.
The association equally decried what it saw as poor hazard allowance for resident doctors at Chukwuemeka Odumegwu Ojukwu University Teaching Hospital, the absence of insurance policies for doctors as well as the full implementation of the Consolidated Salary Scale for doctors.
The association also observed that unresolved issues of welfare cum motivational packages have culminated into mass exodus of doctors from Chukwuemeka Odumegwu Ojukwu University Teaching Hospital.
The Chairman Nigerian Medical Association Anambra state branch Dr. Jide Onyekwelu disclosed this information to NewsProbe at Nkpor Idemili-North local government area of Anambra state during an exclusive Interview on the performance of the health sector.
He said, “The hazard allowance doctors are paid at Chukwuemeka Odumegwu Ojukwu University Teaching Hospital is N3,500.00 monthly and that is why a doctor will risk his life going to attend to a COVID-19 patient and other infectious diseases. The hazard allowance is nothing to write home about.
“They should raise this hazard allowance and also have insurance policy in place because some doctors have gotten infected with COVID-19 and they have died. So what happens to their families? That may be why many doctors are leaving the Chukwuemeka Odumegwu Ojukwu University Teaching Hospital.These are issues that government should do something about to retain their doctors.”
The state NMA boss further disclosed that there was need for government to employ more doctors, retain the ones they have, pay them reasonably well so that they would be willing to render quality service and patients will patronize the hospitals on the understanding that they would meet doctors at the hospitals.
The NMA chairman said, “We have very few civil service doctors in our general hospitals. It is sad to say but it is the truth that some general hospitals have just one doctor. The general hospitals are not conducive for patients. If my relative is sick, I will not advise him to go to a general hospital and be admitted. In the night there won’t be electricity and there may be just one doctor on duty.The environment is bushy and security is not there.
“There are only very few general hospitals that are doing well in Anambra state: general hospitals Onitsha, Ekwulobia and Enugwu-Ukwu. Others are not conducive even for a night as in-patient.”
He also said it was very appalling that about 10 doctors existed in the 21 local government areas of the state and that some local governments did not have a single medical officer of health, noting that those retiring were not being replaced by new ones and as a result, the health of the people at the grassroots were being left in the hands of community health extension workers and nurses without doctors.
He however admonished government to employ more doctors in the general hospitals, equip the facilities as well as make the hospital environment friendly and secure enough for patients. He urged the government to also appreciate private health sector because they were being over-burdened with tax even though they contributed about 70% to health care in the state.
Further efforts were made to get the commissioner for health Dr. Vincent Ogochukwu Okpala to respond to issues raised by the Nigerian Medical Association but the efforts were frustrated because the commissioner did not respond to text messages sent to his phone lines.
The Public Relations Officer of the Ministry of Health also confirmed that he told the commissioner about our correspondent’s visit to his office on two occasions to obtain his reactions but all to no avail.