- Petition Buhari to take decisive action or shut hospital
Aggrieved patients at the Federal Medical Centre, Asaba, Delta State, have protested the incessant strikes by the hospital’s workers, especially medical doctors, claiming that many lives had been lost in the facility to such industrial actions.
The patients, who claimed to have petitioned President Muhammadu Buhari on the matter, therefore, called on the Federal Government to intervene at the FMC, Asaba, by taking a decisive action in tackling the endemic industrial actions in the nation’s health sector.
An eye witness, who pleaded anonymity, said that the protesting patients, though not armed with placards, assembled themselves under bill boards and trees within the hospital’s premises, expressing their anger over what they described as the unbearable strike action frequently embarked upon by the doctors in the hospital.
Many of the patients were said to have also come out for the protest with the infusion given fets still hanging on different parts of their bodies.
Alleging that many lives had been lost since the establishment of the hospital in Asaba to unending strike actions, one of the patients, Mrs. Nnenna Abiagom, said that there was barely any fortnight that different trade unions at the FMC, Asaba, would not embark on one industrial action or another. Abiagom added that at the hospital the situation had always been such that it was either a general industrial strike against the government or the management of the FMC.
Surrounded by the other patients in the hospital, she said, “We have written to President Buhari to take a decisive action or close down the hospital. We are tired of FMC Asaba strike actions; many of the patients have died, we need Buhari to intervene or close down the hospital.”
Abiagom added that in May this year, she lost her elder sister, who was prematurely discharged from the hospital as a result of the industrial action, but later died at home.
She said that shortly after the workers resumed from the strike, which she said lasted for a month, the Joint Health Workers’ Union commenced its own seven-day warning strike, adding, “As soon as it resumed from the 7-day warning strike, the National Association of Resident Doctors (NARD) that just suspended that one month strike, commenced another round of strike”. “People are dying in their large numbers as a result of strike actions in Federal Government Hospitals; the whole issue is compounded by the serious economic problems in the country. The cost of accessing health care in the private hospitals is not within the reach of the poor.”
Abiagom also accused doctors at the hospital of being selfish by capitalizing on flimsy excuses to embark on a strike so that they could refer the hapless patients to their private clinics for treatment at exorbitant rate.
She stressed that the doctors and other health workers at the FMC Asaba had been insensitive to the plight of the patients.
But in a swift reaction, the Acting Chief Medical Director of the hospital, Dr. Victor Osiatuma, claimed that the Federal Government had refused to release funds to the managements of Federal hospitals to pay for what was being owed their staff.
Osiatuma added that the management of FMC Asaba had, however, been able to pay 30 percent of the arrears owed its medical staff from the balance in the personnel account since January 2016.
In another development, the Delta State Commissioner for Health, Dr. Nicholas Azinge, said 25 percent of Nigerians were affected by the sickle cell disorder, adding that one in every child born was likely to suffer from the ailment, especially in Asaba and its environs.
Azinge, however, blamed the situation on lack of appropriate knowledge on the disease, adding that several rural women went into marriage without knowing their genotype.