PRESS ADDRESS: LET REASONING PREVAIL – Oyo NMA Chairman on LAUTECH

A Text of the Press Address by Dr Mojisola ATALABI, the Chairman, Nigerian Medical Association, Oyo State Branch, on the Plight of Doctors in the LadokeAkintola University of Technology Teaching Hospital, Ogbomosho, Oyo State at NMA House on Monday 29TH October 2017

LET REASONING PREVAIL: Gentlemen of the Press,

Good morning. Hope we all had a nice weekend. NMA Oyo State branch with the knowledge and permission of the NMA President, Prof Ogirima, has called this press conference to make known the public and the Nation as a whole the plights of our members working in LAUTECH Teaching Hospital Ogbomosho in the hands of Oyo State Government.

LAUTECH Teaching Hospital Ogbomosho was established for 

  1. Training,
  2. Research and
  3. Service delivery over six years ago.

On this foundation the hospital has strived over these years to stand tall in all these areas by etching the name of Oyo state quite indelibly in the sand of time. However the ordeals of doctors (and in deed all those) working in LAUTECH, in the hands of the Government of Oyo State could better be imagined than prayed to be experienced. It is therefore, with a sense of utmost urgency that we bring to the notice of well-meaning people of Oyo State, the Traditional leaders, opinion leaders, various stakeholders as well as policy influencers in the State and Nigeria at large (indigenes and non-indigenes alike) that Oyo State as we speak is at the verge of ruining one of the enviable heritage of the State, the LAUTECH Teaching HospitalOgbomosho.

In the recent past, the LAUTECH Teaching hospital has been one of the leading health facilities in the State and in fact in the South Western part of Nigeria that has been rising to the health needs of the people and in making giant strides in research, innovations as well as enshrining the culture of expanding Medical knowledge through evidence based training of medical trainees. These have been formidable gains that have put Oyo State in the league of committee of States that were investing in the social sector of the economy thereby investing in the healthy lives of the people.

Ladies and gentlemen, it is saddening to inform you that these positive gains are now on auto-reverse drive, no thanks to the negative attitude of the current government of the State to this once enviable institution. When the industrial crisis between the doctors in LAUTECH teaching Hospital and the State government started in the year, 2016, the leadership of the Nigerian Medical Association intervened by admonishing the leadership of the Association of Resident Doctors in LAUTECH to adopt diplomacy and consultation at resolving the crisis. The NMA also made series of frantic efforts to seek audience with His Excellency, the Executive Governor of the State, Senator Isiaq Abiola Ajimobi perhaps to dialogue and provide amicable resolution but unfortunately, the stool of power is too far from the reach of the Association.

The Association has been able to have audience with the Honourable Commissioner for Health, Dr Popoola Adeduntan and the painful reality is that, the commissioner appeared sincere but the gavel does not lie with him, he was definitely helpless and asked us to keep praying for LAUTECH!! This is unprecedented and SAD!!! This is a road the leadership of the NMA in Oyo State can pray but has to be backed up by genuine action by the state government. Calling a press conference on issues that can be resolved by his Excellency is not the wish of NMA but it seems we are left with no other option.

The government seems to have failed to realize the fact that health is a critical social sector and their responsibility and can therefore not be treated like a ‘business venture’. The government of Oyo State, unfortunately has taken a very wrong decision to run a public health institution as a business venture that would be profit yielding, this if allowed to continue unchecked, will be the first of its kind in Nigeria and in-fact in Africa as well as the entire world. The government has wrongly classified the teaching hospital as an educational institution that naturally has a Ministry of Education as its supervisory Ministry as opposed to the Ministry of Health.

Teaching hospitals as I have said earlier are for Research; Teaching and Health Care Services delivery, this we belief is too basic for the government to understand.

The University College Hospital (UCH), Ibadan was established in 1957 by the visionary leaders of the Nation as at the time and till date, the hospital has not run as a business venture, despite aggressive internal revenue drive, then why would Oyo State toy with an anti-masses agenda that will further impoverish the poor masses of the State and abrogate their lives?  All over the world, no public hospital is run as a profit making venture. It is pertinent to bring it to the knowledge of all and sundry that the government has stopped subventions to the hospital since January, 2016. The stoppage of this funding has practically made it impossible to effectively operate as a hospital as salaries of staff and other running costs could no longer be effectively paid.

The staffs were being paid a paltry part of their monthly emolument. The doctors are being paid 28% of their expected monthly salary. This would definitely not motivate anyone to give the best to the system. It is also very important to inform all, that, the LAUTECH teaching hospital as well as the various secondary health care as well as the Primary Health Care facilities in the State are under the payroll of the Oyo State Government. The noble question to ask is that, why would health staff under the Hospital Management Boards as well the Local Government system get full salary, though with few outstanding arrears, but those of LAUTECH would be treated as a business enterprise? A moral burden you would all say!

The hospital was accredited as a teaching hospital with a view to keep expanding and improving on service and infrastructural back bone. This may be what informed the government to invest in some developmental projects but it is sad to note that, some of the projects and equipment already paid for by the government are either partially supplied or completely abandoned despite the fact that full payment has been made for such projects to the various contractors. The body of doctors in the Hospital, both MDCAN and ARD as well as other health care workers have tried to support the government in many ways that could prevent the tax payers money from being put to an avoidable waste, but we believe that there has been a strong political force that are bent on destroying this institution thus allowing colossal waste of tax payers investment.

The gradual, well calculated well-orchestrated and steady implementation of the destruction of the Institution has commenced with this non-chalant attitude of the State Government and deliberate suffocation of the Hospital has now led to mass exodus of the human capital from the facility. In the last 5 months, more than 20 Medical Consultants; over 60% of the resident doctors, 100 Nurses; 10 laboratory scientist, 5 physiotherapists, 6 pharmacists and a host of other junior health workers have left due to hunger and dehumanization, to where they could have their future guaranteed and career protected. Must we all keep mute, till there is a total destruction of once an icon of health service delivery institution in the State? This is definitely not the kind of stride that would lift a State!

It is a fact that huge and unnecessarily long bureaucracy tends to slow pace of work in public institutions and effort to remove this kinds of hindrance was what informed the establishment of boards in various government agencies and parastatals, it is disheartening to note that the current government of Oyo State has not deemed it fit to constitute a properly constituted governing board for the LAUTECH teaching hospital.

This has technically removed a proper governing tool and command structure from the institution. A properly constituted board perhaps would have been able to evolve a cerebral problem solving approach to the myriads of problems confronting the teaching hospital.

There are many departments that are awaiting accreditation for the benefit of the resident doctors as well as the undergraduate medical students but lack of focus has being hampering this desired feat. In fact those departments that have accreditation right now may lose their accreditations if urgent steps to put in place favourable working condition is put in place.

This is an institution that all well-meaning indigenes and non-indigenes of Oyo State at home and abroad should NOT allow to die! The Nigerian Medical Association, Oyo State has decided to cry out for help when all avenues including the one made by the National President of NMA to reach out to His Excellency, the Executive Governor of Oyo State, Senator Isiaq Abiola Ajimobi have failed!

Our Prayers:

  1. Immediate constitution of a proper governing board for the smooth running of the institution
  2. Retention of the current human resource for health and attracting more for the progress of the institution through the prompt and regular payment of running subvention to the institution.
  3. There should be proper funding of RESIDENCY PROGRAM for effectiveness and qualitative training.
  4. All doctors and workers of LAUTECH Ogbomosho should be treated like other employees of Oyo state and pay their full salaries like others.
  5. Payment of salary arrears being owed health personnel in the institution and stoppage of percentage salary for the health workers
  6. Strong and sincere political will to pursue all the contractors that have been paid for one project or the other to deliver on the said projects
  7. Sincere effort at ensuring accreditations of various departments for post graduate medical training as expected of a teaching hospital as well as undergraduate medical training.

It is the sincere hope and aspiration of the Nigerian Medical Association, Oyo State, that pragmatic steps would be taken by the government towards the resolution of the current crisis as it has not brought any good image to the State and neither a good welfare to the teaming masses of the State the government has vowed to serve and protect as enshrined in the constitution of the country as every single soul in the State has a RIGHT to good quality of life.

To this end, it is imperative to further appeal to all well-meaning Nigerians and other stakeholders within and outside the sector to as a matter of urgency intervene and appeal to His Excellency, Senator Isiaq Abiola Ajimobi, the Executive Governor of Oyo State, before this avoidable crisis degenerate into the State’s debacle.

Finally, we appeal to the Federal Government of positive CHANGE to wade into this crisis and defend the course of justice for the oppressed voices of Nigerians in Oyo State.

Long Live NMA!

Long Live Oyo State!!

Long Live the Federal Republic of Nigeria!!!

Signed

Dr Omolola Mojisola Atalabi

Chairman, Nigerian Medical Association (NMA)

Oyo State Branch

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