By Peter Agba Kalu
When Gov. Alex Otti was elected into office he made it known that one of his main priorities was to restore the accreditation of the state Medical Teaching Hospital ABSUTH, whose licence under the previous government was revoked due to neglance by the Okezie Ikpeazu government, which led to inadequate facilities and poor staff welfare as staffs went for 30 months without salary. We all witnessed the suffering of our students, lecturers, and patients. Promising to reverse that and never let it happen again. True to character Otti invested massively in the renovation and upgrade of the infrastructure, equipment, and personnel of ABSUTH.
Working with the Commissioner for health Dr. Ngozi Okoronkwo and other medical professionals, Alex Otti took some extra steps forward as the College of Medicine and Health Sciences, Abia State University, Uturu successfully regained full accreditation from the Medical and Dental Council of Nigeria (MDCN) after a period of suspension lasting almost three years. The past administration always shamelessly found some excuses to defend the state of chaos they turned ABSUTH to. This was such a remarkable achievement for our state and it did indeed affirm the commitment of the governor to deliver quality healthcare and education to our people.
With the accreditation restored, the medical students resumed their training at the Abia State University Teaching Hospital (ABSUTH) Aba, with a higher admission quota and a valid accreditation to train house officers. Not only that, the pressure that was being piled on Federal Medical Center, Umuahia reduced as patients started trooping to Aba teaching hospital as confidence was restored.
The new positive development brought about its own challenges as the pressure came on both staff and equipment.
First, this is a staff that their attitude to work was non chalant after being owed salaries for over 30 months, the natural survival instinct in humans will push them into other extra fields of activities in other to survive. The teaching hospital too became seriously under staffed because those Pharaohic years Okezie Ikpeazu forced several of core professional work force to Japa outside the country.
It was against this background that the hospital management called an emergency meeting with the management of Abia State University Teaching Hospital involving all Clinical heads, Principals: School of Nursing and midwifery, and all staff of the hospital. The CMD of the hospital Prof. John Chikezie who was prompt was long seated before several of the staff and other doctors started to trickle in, he expressed dismay at the attitude of some of the workers of the hospital to their duties despite previous reprimands, which made him decide to summon all the heads of department/ Unit and staff under them to an emergency meeting with the management on Thursday 25th January 2024. He was quite determined and vowed to ensure the enforcement of strict discipline thereafter to any staff that fails to take his/ her duties seriously. He insisted that the government of Otti has been prompt in paying salaries which has never happened in the history of the long neglected medical institution, and reminded them that they will expect the same attitude towards service rendered to the public.
Professor Chikezie John the CMD pointed out that since governor Otti promised and has allocated 20% and 15% of the state 2024 annual budget to education and health, respectively, that this goes a long way to demonstrate his resolve to promote the well-being and health of our people. Therefore the ABSUTH staff are obligated to return Alex Otti’s new dawn in service to our citizens. He expressed deep gratitude to the sacrifice some of the staffs that stayed back made over the years, but called on them to continue to do more in providing quality and best care to our people as what they’re doing in the teaching hospital will reflect on the way the people see the Otti government.
When some staff raised the issue of salary arrears, Prof. Chikezie John reminded them that for the first time in over 20 years a 13 months salary has been paid in a stretch and that none of them protested,or pile pressure on the Governor before he did that. That in spite of other sectors of the state begging for attention and moreover, looking at the dead end the administration met the hospital, that the staff should be very positive and focus on service delivery as the governor too has his ears to the ground. He’s someone who knows how to go about in getting first hand information, he pointed out that their positive attitude to work will get to him somehow and the governor will continue to do the right thing in terms of their salaries.
He layed strong emphasis on the need for Synergy between government and the citizens in order to maintain and achieve sanity and that the hospital is the meeting point between the people and government.
In fact, he pointed out that the teaching hospital to large extent represents the public image of the government and that staff should work with pride and dignity. That their attitude to work must reflect the new environment and entire new structured work welfare that the governor introduced.
Though some doctors lamented about needing more medical equipment and nurses because of the increase in number of patients since the governor revived the hospital,as several of those that use to troop FMC Umuahia are now rushing to teaching hospital Aba. The CMD assured that the management will look into it as the positive steps of the governor have attracted its own challenges.
After the meeting, l went back the next day to get myself on the spot information about what’s on the ground. Mrs. Agu Aguri from Akanu Item who came to get treatment for her handsome little boy by name Chisom, told me that she’s very impressed with the service going on. She used to travel from Aba to FMC Umuahia and the place was so much flooded with patience from Aba that they used to wonder if there was no hospital at Aba.
Uchenna Ubani an Ariaria International Market based trader from Isiala Ngwa South who came to take treatment expressed satisfaction and wanted me to greet Gov. Otti for him.
The student nurses told me how they were being posted to Living Word Hospital to have experience when the state Basic School of Midwifery was shut down.
I interacted with the medical students in level 5 who experienced happiness that their future which was almost ruined by greedy politicians, has been restored. Medical is tasking and financially draining, imagine being told your school lost accreditation after all these years after your parents must have suffered to sustain you here, was the exact words a too happy student expressed to me.