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Anambra teaching hospital deserted over doctors’ prolonged strike

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Anambra State-owned Chukwuemeka Odumegwu Ojukwu University Teaching Hospital (COOUTH), Awka, has become a ghost town due to the indefinite strike by resident doctors on May 14, 2019.

At press time, patients in the wards were almost completely evacuated to other hospitals by their relatives and friends.

No fewer than 10 doctors from the hospital are believed to have left the shores of the country for greener pastures.

Trouble started when the doctors under the Obinna Aniagbaso-led Association of Resident Doctors (ARD) in COOUTH embarked on indefinite strike over poor infrastructure, absence of residency training and poor salary.

In the wake of the strike, it was gathered that patients overwhelmed few consultants who provided medical attention with house officers.

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Dr. Aniagbaso, who is Anambra chairman of ARD, told The Guardian that it was out of magnanimity that the association tolerated the services rendered by the house officers during the strike.

However, the strike got messier when the consultants, who held fort amid a warning strike, threatened to go on full-blown sympathy strike with the resident doctors, but sheathed their sword after meeting with state government officials.

It was learnt, however, that the consultants pulled a surprise when they joined the strike on June 21.

The Guardian checks revealed that a multi-stakeholders meeting attended by the governor, Chief Willie Obiano; Secretary to the State Government (SSG), Professor Solo Chukwulobelu; Commissioner for Health, Dr. Vincent Okpala; the Chief of Staff, Primus Odili; Vice Chancellor of COOU, Prof. Gregory Nwakoby; Chief Medical Director (CMD) of COOUTH, Dr. Basil Nwankwo; the Dean, Prof. Emeka Ojiyi, among others could not resolve the issues and get the final-year medical students to take their fourth Bachelor of Medicine-Bachelor of Surgery (MBBS) tests.

Investigations revealed that a ploy by the management board of the hospital to get the students take their MBBS in the University College of Medicine inside COOUTH, rather than at any of its outlets at Agulu or Neni, created new problem.

According to a source, the problem led to the collapse of talks and compounded the plight of the final-year medical students.

Efforts by our correspondent to ascertain government’s plan to address the issues through the new commissioner for health proved abortive.


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