By Olufemi Adediran, Abeokuta
Medical doctors in Ogun State on Wednesday accused Governor Ibikunle Amosun of total neglect of the health sector, alleging, among other things that the government had stiffled the growth of the sector.
The doctors under the aegis of the Nigerian Medical Association (MMA), Ogun State chapter, stormed the Governor’s office in Oke-Mosan, Abeokuta, the State capital in protest to register their grievances, lamenting continuous decay in the State’s health sector.
Other complains were, irregular payment of salaries and dues, inadequate medical personnel and equipment as well as lack of improved medical facilities.
The aggrieved doctors sang solidarity songs and carried placards with various inscriptions such as, “Extreme Manpower shortage is a bane of quality health care delivery in Ogun State,” “Governor Amosun Bring Back our interns and NYSC health workers”, “Give us good working conditions to serve our people”, “Fulfill your promises of quality health care in Ogun State”
Other messages were “Doctors are dying of workload, other health workers are fainting, do something”, “Mission to rebuild, help us rebuild our health sector in Ogun State.”
The NMA Chairman, Dr. Abayomi Olajide who spoke on behalf of the doctors, lamented that Governor Amosun was doing better in the provision of infrastructure at the detriment of the health sector.
Olajide said the number of health workers in Ogun State “is abysmally poor” while health facilities “are nothing to write home about.”
He explained that they decided to make their grievances known to the Governor instead of embarking on strike “so as not to worsen already deplorable state of the health sector”.
“What are the grievances of the NMA? Ogun State is blessed with responsible health workers, workers who have interest of the State at heart, but the problem with the health sector is real.”
“We know one of the agenda of the government is the qualitative healthcare, most especially for children under five years, pregnant women and the elderly, but up till now the campaign promises have not been fulfilled. The NMA is not happy with that”.
“As we speak, the number of health workers in Ogun State is abysmally poor. We have less than 150 Doctors manning over 40 health institutions in the State. That is less than half of the population of doctors in FMC (Federal Medical Centre), Idi-Aba, and we expect qualitative healthcare. It is not going to happen by magic. This does not affect Doctors alone, nurses, pharmacists and other health-workers are affected. This portends great danger for the health sector.”
“Another thing is that the level of infrastructure is nothing to write home about. We have toured the health institutions in the state across all the zones; there are a lot of challenges”.
“As we speak, there is no CT Scan owned by this State government. Some of the basic equipment that Doctors and all other health workers need to work with are not available. We need Ogun standard in health sector. The Governor had done a lot on infrastructural development, but he needs to look the side of the health sector”.
“Also, House officers, that is the least of trainee Doctors, have not been employed for the past three years. Some of them have gone as far as to the North to look for jobs and they are of Ogun indigenes. This needs to be reversed”.
“Apart from that NYSC doctors have refused to come. What we heard was that the NYSC Coordinator is ready to deploy them but the government won’t pay them.”
Addressing the doctors, Secretary to the State Government (SSG), Mr. Taiwo Adeoluwa who admitted that the State health sector is facing challenges, however, said “It is uncharitable to say Ogun State Government has not done nothing in the health sector.”
Adeoluwa recalled that Amosun-led government inherited bad health sector when it came on board in 2011, but had since made a lot of improvement in the sector, including recruitment of personnel and infrastructure.
The SSG who blamed the challenges on paucity of funds, assured the NMA that the Governor would soon take steps to address those problems confronting the sector.
Adeoluwa said: “Most of what you have said are true. We are not the government that derives joy in telling lies. We will tell you how it is and what is visible.
“But we should situate these things appropriately and in the right context. When we came in 2011, the entire health workers in the state was a little over a thousand. Within the first one year, we did health workers recruitment and added over a thousand. Today, we have over two thousand from about a thousand we met on ground.
“So, it is not as if we have done nothing, please. We are not where we should be, I admit. More should be done, we admit. But it is entirely uncharitable, please pardon me, to say the government of Ibikunle Amosun has done nothing.
“We have more than double of health workers we met on ground in 2011. We want to do more. But we all know the challenges facing the country today.”
The protesting Doctors, dressed in their lab-coats terminated their protest at the State House of Assembly where the Clerk of the Hosue, Mr. Bisiriyu Lanre collected the NMA’s protest letter with the promise that “the Assembly will intervene appropriately”.