By Pascal Chibueze
The Association of Resident Doctors of COOUTH, Amaku Awka, this afternoon embarked on indefinite strike action over what it described as the inability of the State Government to honour the agreement it signed with the body on the 17th January, 2019 during its warning strike.
In a release signed by the president of the association, Dr. Obinna Aniagboso and made available to newsmen in Awka. The statement read in parts, ‘This course has become inevitable following the failure of the State Government to honour the agreement it signed with us on 17th January, 2019 during our warning strike.
‘We recall that an agreement was signed with the State Government that by April 2019, the following policies would be implemented in the hospital:
Provision of adequate infrastructure that would improve clinical and diagnostic proficiency for improved patient’s care and specialist training.
‘Completion and adoption of staff condition of service including granting of In-service training to qualified medical officers.
‘Placement of staff in the appropriate salary scale with implementation of full welfare package as obtainable in other tertiary institutions.
‘To point out some facts and throw more lights on these issues: the dearth of modern equipments and diagnostic facilities have been impeding efficient health care delivery, hampering Residency training, research and academic progress and thus posing a serious blow to patients’ treatment and production of needed specialist manpower.
‘For instance, a considerable amount of patients’ investigations are outsourced at increased cost, the length of admission is increased and with the rising service cost all translating into enormous financial burden for the common man.
‘It is on record that health workers in the hospital earn the least in the country if not in the whole of West Africa. It is also no news that doctors here earn below 50% of their actual entitlement compared to their counterparts elsewhere.
‘This meager income hardly meets the bare necessities of life for the doctor and his family, let alone sponsoring professional exams and academic courses of Residency Programme. Again, Staff of the hospital has been subjected to professional stagnation without promotion or progress since employment.
‘This pitiful situation has been going on for about 7 years now since inception of the teaching hospital. Consequently, our doctors have become the laughing stock of their colleagues.
‘Frustration and disgrace have led to steady exodus of highly qualified and experienced personnel including consultants and senior residents, thus rendering the workforce unstable and undermined.
‘Obviously, the remnant of the workforce is thrown into severe exertion and exploitation hence the recurring incidence of slumps among doctors overstretched and hyper-exhausted on duty. Needless to say, in this scenario, patients’ care and Residency Training Programme suffer terribly.
‘Indeed, it is sad of note that the hospital being a strategically located tertiary health facility with so much great potentials of supplying intensive specialist care, generating seasoned doctors and cutting-edge researches has been underperforming due to poor funding and government commitment.
‘Taking recourse to industrial action has never been our intention, but, unfortunately, we have been pushed to the wall for a long time and bruised and efforts to get redress have proved abortive.
‘We are by this means appealing to our able State Governor to hear our prayers and hearken to the plight of his Health Workers and that of Anambra Citizens. We deeply commend him for his teeming goodwill and landmark innovations in the state.
‘We sincerely apologize for any inconvenience or difficulties this industrial dispute might pose especially to our dear patients. We do this for the betterment of our State’s Health Sector, for quality and affordable health care, for posterity,’ the statement read.