In this interview conducted by a sister media, a doctor at Edo State Central hospital, Mr. Jonathan Amadasun (not real name) opened up on the rots in the health system in Edo State, lackadaisical attitude of the government towards the health system and challenges therewith.

By Ehi Ekhator

Question: Tell me, what is wrong with health system in Edo state and compared to other states, what level is Edo State?

Generally, the health sector in Nigeria is really bad. It is nothing to write home about. A situation where you have vibrant medical graduates flying out of the country because of the condition of the health sector starting from lack of employment, where hospitals are deficient of doctors both specialists and normal medical officers, still a lot of doctors are graduating from Universities and they are not employed. There is this issue of there is no money to pay doctors. It is everywhere in the country, federal hospitals are not employing and state hospitals are not employing too.

For Edo State where I work under the health sector, the last time Edo State employed doctors was about five years ago, that is 2012 and since then, no employment has been done. Within this period, many doctors have retired and in an ideal system, as some are retiring, others should be employed.

Outside that, a state where we have over 3,218,332 as population, the doctors under Edo State under hospital management care are not up to 200 and that is to say that the state is over deficient of doctors not because people are no longer reading medicine, a lot of people have graduated from the University but they are not being employed.

In this state where we have less than 200 doctors, some of them are very old and there is nothing like training and retraining doctors. A situation where you employed doctors five years ago and there is nothing on ground to retrain them knowing that medicine is dynamic such that every doctors need to be retrained all the time, these doctors are in the system without a trainer.

Out of the less than 200 doctors, we have no equipment, nothing on ground. The former governor claimed to have built a five stars hospital in the central hospital but this same hospital does not have equipment. He used it as a political campaign that he has given us a five stars hospital.

The purported five stars hospital was built inside a dilapidated hospital such that they took a part of the former hospital and gave a very exterior attractive look, while the whole hospital blocks, are still the way it was 100 years ago where some department is still decked with wood. Like in some units, there is no light if you go there in the night or you happen to have an emergency from 7pm, there is no single light in the whole hospital even some female doctors that work at night have to be very careful not to be robbed or raped at night.

A situation where you have only one bulb on in accident and emergency units and in the same place, there is no single good room for the doctors doing night calls to sleep nor for other nurses and auxiliary nurses to stay. Outside that, there are some department where there is no free flowing water in a hospital where we were taught that our environment should be cleaned.

The kind of odour that comes out of the hospital, you would think the entire hospital is a mortuary because outside the doctors other cleaners that clean the environment, even though they are there, do not have the necessary?

The tax payers are not getting the proper medical attention, they are even meant to pay more for the service rendered. The few doctors are over laboured and they don’t have the necessary equipment. Situations where you have to improvise most of the time to treat patients or you spend your own money or the patience are asked to buy their things and bring to the hospital. Even after all that, they patients are still being charged.

The government is saying treatment is free for the children and elderly but the truth is, no treatment is free in Edo State management board rather you buy your materials and you are still charged. The worst part of this is that these same people we are charging have already paid their taxes.

As for the doctors, we have no motivation. Edo State doctors are the least paid doctors. Over two years ago, doctors were put on new salary scale but Edo State government refused to pay doctors the exact salary approved by federal government and even now the new one that have been introduced over a year ago, the government is not talking about it. How can medical staff who are not getting paid rightly be motivated?

The doctors who decide to train are meant to use their personal money; they write exams and go for updates. Do you expect that kind of doctor to give all in all for service delivery when he is using his own money and his own equipment in government’s hospital without thank you?

Question: How many months salary does the government owe the staff of the hospital?

Talking about salary, the only money they owe us is one month salary Oshiomhole refused to pay doctors in 2015. He said we went on strike then and he refused to pay, and the present government said it is likely not to pay too.

Question: You talked about salary increased that is yet to be implemented, could you explain that in details and how it affects work efficiency?

So as for salary, we are not being held any but promotion has not been done for the past 8 years. The salary increment that was approved about two years ago, the government is yet to pay Edo state staff and now a new one has been approved last year, they are not even talking about it. Several attempt made by Edo State National Medical Association of Nigeria has tried to approached the government on the new salary scale have proved abortive.

They also talked about skipping which means that a doctor level will be skipped by one level. That is, a doctor on level 13 will be skipped to 14. Other states have started doing it and the workers are being paid their money but nothing is happening in Edo State.

As for the work efficiency, when you are not well paid and motivated, a situation when you are not being sent for training, you are more like an outdated doctor because medicine is dynamic; you are expected to renew your mind and technique or approach for service delivery all the time. A situation where you are not well paid, you don’t have own personal money and the government refused to train and retrain staff for effective service delivery are abandoned, there is no efficiency.

There are a lot of young doctors who have the desire of going into training, the areas in medicine that Edo State don’t have. In Central hospital there is nothing new, we don’t have heart surgeons, no pathologists so we have to send our entire blood sample for investigation to private hospitals, no paediatric surgeon, orthodontist, anaesthesiologist and many others. As big as central hospital we do not have x-ray machine, the ultra sound we have has a certain number of people it takes.

In whole of Edo State, we have only one consultant radiologist, one consultant ENT surgeon, they are over laboured. There are some department that has one consultant, some do not have at all, and there are some department that do not even exist. If a patient want a heart surgery, Edo State does not have anything, we do not have a neurosurgeon. There are many branch of medicine we do not even have the specialty. If Edo State government could not buy a single x-ray machine, there is a problem.

Question: Oshiomhole built five stars and equipped it or is the reality different?

Talking about the five stars hospital Oshiomhole claimed to have built, there is no single x-ray machine there. How can you build a new hospital inside hospital that existed over 100 years that the blocks and roof are falling off and you did not renovate the new one? The same hospital, exactly the same prototype is being built in his own Village, Iyamoh because Edo State University Iyamoh is starting medical school and that same building has been equipped and the one in the heart of Benin does not have anything.

If at all they open that place, who are the doctors that would work there when those doctors are less than 200 in Edo State and they are not trained? I am a surgeon; I am paying my expensive school fees to a certain University yearly to have myself trained. Outside the fee, i go for seminal, other programs and i am not being paid by the government. If the government was responsible, i must come back to the government hospitals to stay at least 5yrs to render my service but now i can grab any other better opportunity when it comes?

How can I pay over a N1m of my money and you expect me to be happy? A whole lot of doctors spend their money to train themselves and when they come across opportunity along the way, they forget about Edo State and that is why we are losing doctors every day.

Edo State employed a pathologist 6 years ago but the man got a better job in Oghara, Delta State where they gave him a better office, they made all his equipment available for him and he left Edo State.


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