On Thursday, May 11, the University of Benin Teaching Hospital (UBTH) has reportedly been shut down as students protested the death of a student who died after being admitted in the hospital.
The aggrieved students who protested from the University of Benin main gate to the UBTH gate alleged that their colleague identified as Chibuike Jerald, a 300 level student of the Department of Philosophy and Religion gave up as result of negligence.
The students said his death was avoidable, and beseeched the hospital in anger forcing the UBTH security officials to lock the gates to the hospital to avoid further escalation.
Speaking to newsmen, the leader of the group of protesters who gave his name as Agbolahor Manassehon said their colleague died because of negligience on the part of the hospital management.
“When he was brought in after complaining of fever, we took him to the Accident and Emergency Department around 8pm last night and met some doctors at work. They told us that they could barely help because they did not have Adrenaline and intravenous. We were given prescriptions to go and get the medications,” he said.
“We searched for the drugs but because it was night we could not get them on time. By the time we could get the recommended materials we were informed he had passed on. It is worrying that his death which was very avoidable was caused by issues as embarassing as a hospital like UBTH not having syringes and needles.
It has become a common practice in the UBTH for doctors to demand from the patience before obliging them medical services due to non availability of basic medical facilities,” he said.
He also alleged that the continued industrial disharmony in the institution has affected the quality of health care delivery as doctors, nurses and other health workers always exhibit nonchalant attitude due to poor welfare.
They called on the management of the hospital to improve on the relationship with the workers in the hospital so as improve the quality of health care services given to the public.
Some of the placards held by the protesters had messages like, “Ibadin enough is enough; UBTH is not working; There is no gloves, syringes in UBTH; Prof Ibadin pay UBTH doctors;UBTH has lost her glory,” amongst others.
The protest comes after several warnings came from doctors at the hospital who last month wrote a letter to patients informing them of conditions in th hospital which has made it impossible for doctors to function seamlessly in their effort to guarante adequate healthcare delivery.
They listed some of the problems as the lack of materials, decaying infrastructure and what they termed management irresponsibilty.
In March, the Association of Resident Doctors, (ARD) UBTH chapter, declared a State of Emergency at the hospital due to the acute decay of administration procedures and state of equipment in the hospital.
Following an emergency general meeting held to discuss issues bothering on patient care staff welfare and infrastructure, the executive of the association led by the association Ppresident, Dr. Eustace Oseghale, said a state of emergency became necessary as patients coming to the hospital cannot be given adequate service.
“The Association intends to bring to the attention of well-meaning Nigerians the unavailability of basic consumables in the hospital, it’s of note that surgeons in UBTH have to struggle with the operating tables during surgery and the equipment in the sterilising department are often broken down leaving patients, patient relatives and doctors stranded. The accident and emergency is not left out as doctors nurses and patients are often found searching for materials to provide care with the patients having to go out to source materials most times.
“The call rooms and post graduate library in the hospital are often in darkness and resident doctors on call have to grapple with insects and reptiles in the dark call rooms. Patient care is not the only suffering sector as staff welfare is so bad. The house officers who just completed their house job are been owed several months of salaries despite been over worked as they were grossly short staffed,” he said in a press briefing.
“Some UBTH doctors are still been owed June to august 2013 salaries despite several appeals to the management these salaries have dragged for four years. UBTH doctors have been paid percentage of salaries for months and despite several appeals to management there is currently no plan to pay the deficits,’ he said.pointing out that the associated problems started in the hospital since the administration of the present Chief Medical Director (CMD), Prof Michael Ibadin, took over the management of the hospital,” he stated.
Last month, senior doctors and consultants who constitues members of the Medical and Dental Consultants Association of Nigeria (MDCAN) joined the call for the repairs in the decaying infrastructure and equipment in the hospital which is affecting the delivery of health services in the hospital while giving the CMD an ultimatum notifying him of an industrial action.should their demands not be met.
In a letter dated April 4, 2017 and signed by the association’s Chairman, Prof. C.A Okonkwo Secretary, Dr. S.U. Okugbo (Secretary), the consultants said that the failure of management to appropriately tackle the issue of decaying of infrastructure and equipment at the hospital, poor working environment and non-implement policies concerning the welfare of doctors as approved by the Federal Government for doctors led to their decision to embark on an industrial strike.
The consultants stated in the letter their grievances as, “poor working environment in the hospital, as evident by non-functionality of the Radiology Department (x-ray machines, ultrasound machines), non-functional Radiotherapy machine, malfunctioning air conditioners in theatre, epileptic power supply especially to Pathology department.”
Okonkwo also said in the letter that members of the association are also “vexed with the persistent shortfalls in salaries of honourary consultants since July 2016 without any visible resolution in the horizon.”
Some of these issues discussed during the emergency session resulted in the association resolving that management should start the “correction of all inadequacies in the provision of health services in the hospital X-ray machines and the repair of theatre air conditioners as well as the provision of equipment for use in clinical and rehabilitation areas.”
The consultants while giving a 21 day ultimatum to management to meet all their demands or face a full blown strike reminded the CMD, Prof Ibadin, that members of MDCAN have been supportive of his administration and shown patience and understanding with respect to salaries shortfall since last year even as the hospital is regarded as the highest grossing internally generated revenue (IGR) in the whole country.
Some consultants who did not want their identities revealed said they had it in good authority that the CMD, Prof. Ibadin, whose tenure expires in June have actively started lobbying the Minister for Health to give him some extra latitude.
“I will tell you that Ibadin is alredy making serious campaign in Abuja to get tenure extention and from what we are gathering, he might likely succeed because the Ministry of Health have always been on his side against the doctors here. Throughout all that has been going on at UBTH and with consultants, the ARD and even nurses complaining about equipment decay and mismanagement have you seen the Ministry raise an eye brow? This is a hospital for Christ’s sake and we deal with life and death. The loss of this young man who died yesterday is just the beginning. I tell you, we will record more avoidable deaths should what we are seeing in our equipment and materials insufficiency continue, ” he said.
Another senior doctor blamed the decadence being experienced in hospitals on the APC government led by President Mohammadu Buhari saying he does not care if corruption goes on with the health sector because the president can never be a patient in a Nigeria hospital.
“Who are we to blame the hospital management led by Ibadin when you have the President of the country not even trusting the hospitals in Nigeria to seek medical treatment. President Buhari knows what is going in UBTH but he is not concerned because he does not use any medical facility in the country. Right now as we are speaking he has travelled to the United Kingdom for an ailment that could have been handled in any Nigeria hospital but he does not care whatever rot being perpetrated by an corrupt C.M.D because he will never be a patient in a Nigerian hospital.
But responding to enquiries by the media on the alleged death, the hospital management neither confirmed nor denied the death of any student.
The Chairman of the Medical Advisory Committee of the University Of Benin Teaching Hospital, Dr. Casmir Omuemi said UBTH has always been up and doing in the discharge of service to the public.
“I cannot confirm or deny the allegation that a student died in the hospital but that the relationship between the hospital management and the UNIBEN has been very cordiall,” he responded on phone while adding that the hospital was working in full capacity.