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Confusion Ensues As UNTH Doctors Divided On Industrial Unrest

By Ignatius Okpara, Enugu

Resident Doctors at the University of Nigeria Teaching Hospital UNTH Ituku/Ozalla Enugu are now at war with each other, following the decision of some members to back out of the ongoing three months strike action, while a faction vowed to continue with the unrest.

Recall AFRICAN EXAMINER reported the strike when it was declared by the Association of Resident Doctors, (ARD), in the Hospital about three months ago.

Announcing their resolve to return back to their duty post, the doctors said the strike was unnecessary and against the interest of the patients.

The resident doctors said it was quite disheartening that “soon after calling off an industrial action, which lasted for almost three months, some politically-minded hatchet-men commenced another strike without sympathy for the helpless patients who should be protected by the Hippocratic Oath that we all took as medical doctors and who attend the hospital as their last hope.”

In a statement signed by two members of ARD UNTH chapter, Dr. Maxwell N. Egbugara and Dr Ihechiluru Oyebuchi, for the association which was made available to newsmen in Enugu Tuesday, condemned a recent publication in a National Daily, captioned “UNTH performs surgeries with candles, torch-lights, – ARD President; Pediatric Department loses accreditation, Docs embark on strike”.

The medical experts described the publication as highly political, parochial, misconceived, paranoid and unreasonable.”

“The malicious, vicious and one-sided publication was purely geared towards destabilizing, creating anarchy, inciting the UNTH population and tarnishing the self-evident good performances of the Chief Medical Director (CMD) Dr. Christopher C. Amah.

“We have therefore decided to completely dissociate our humble selves from these tales of lies and ungodly action by this group as we have now realized that a cabal is using some of our members to destabilize the progress in the hospital in order to discredit the UNTH Management led by Dr. C. C. Amah.

“We believe that criticisms should be positive and issue-based and not vicious and vague attacks on personality and good performance,” the statement said.

“While we agree with the fact that a majority of our members are not happy that the “Skipping” promised by UNTH Management has not been paid to us (on the grounds that it was unauthorized and unfunded), the congress at no time directed the Executive Committee or the President of ARD UNTH, to embark on a campaign of calumny, name-calling and outright falsehood against the person and office of the CMD in particular and the Hospital Management in general.

“It is pertinent to note that the ARD President misinformed the congress so as to enable him to embark on his premeditated strike as concocted with his cabal.

“He told us lies that the office of the Auditor-General of the Federation (AGF) and the Budget Office of the Federation (BOF) budgeted for and released funds to the CMD for the payment of “skipping” to Resident Doctors.

“This false claim has been countered by a circular from the Federal Ministry of Health (FMH) with reference number C.2262/T/111 addressed to the Chief Medical Directors of all Federal-owned Hospitals, wherein it was clearly stated that “Skipping” was not budgeted for in 2015.

“Thus the CMD in trying to convince the Executive Committee of ARD opened up the financial records of the hospital for their perusal.

“The President of ARD while addressing the congress on 16th October 2015 lied that he did not see the said financial records.

“The congress rejected the strike option due to poor and inadequate information from the Executive Committee, but the President went ahead to declare a strike with effect from Monday October 19th 2015 to please his sponsors.

“Some of us have been Resident Doctors in UNTH for upwards of five years and we can boldly and honestly say that UNTH has moved forward in leaps and bounds in the last four years” the statement narrated.

They noted that the Management of UNTH under Dr. C. C. Amah’s watch has reactivated the National Cardio-Thoracic Centre of Excellence to a world-class status.

The Centre they said, has performed well over 100 Open-Heart Surgeries since March 2013 when it was reactivated after 10 years of inactivity, adding that eight patients successfully had Open-Heart Surgeries in the centre last week.

They noted that such successes could not have happened in a hospital that is “dead” using Dr. Ugwuoke’s word.

“The Dr. C.C Amah led administration apart from ensuring a dedicated line to the hospital from the public power supply (which has remarkably improved power supply to the hospital), Management has equally provided many functional power generating sets to boost power supply to various departments in the hospital including a 1000KVA CAT generating set solely dedicated to the main operating theatre complex and the adjoining Radiology Department.

“The UNTH Management has in addition provided solar powered electricity supply in various parts of the hospital to further ensure steady power supply to all parts of the hospital. The above highlighted achievements are just to mention but a few.

“It is therefore amazing that the hospital is now said to be in total darkness to the extent of using candles and touch-lights to perform surgeries as claimed by Dr. Ugwuoke and his cabal.

“This public dance of shame by this group is also laughable as President Buhari’s administration has pushed Power Distribution Companies to provide about twenty hours of electricity daily” the pro-Amah resident Doctors maintained.

They revealed that Many Resident Doctors had been sponsored abroad for skills acquisition in modern medical practice, explaining that “the chronic challenge of water supply in the hospital has also been positively addressed with the sinking of boreholes in the hospital, something that was hitherto believed to be impossible.”

The doctors further pointed out that under Dr. C .C. Amah’s management, an up-to-date Neurosurgical Ward and a Private (VIP) Ward (never in existence before) were provided while the Radiotherapy facility (the only one in the entire South-East and South-South geo-political zones) which his administration met in a moribund and vandalized state, was promptly reactivated and put to use.

“The Dr. C. C. Amah led administration in UNTH, through many robust collaboration with overseas partners from United States of America (USA) and the United Kingdom (UK) has attracted to UNTH (especially the Cardio-Thoracic Centre of Excellence) Seven 40-ft containers load of medical equipment and consumables worth billions of naira as free donations to the hospital.

“The Dr. C. C. Amah led administration has recently by the downwards review of out-sourced services contracts in the hospital saved UNTH over N120, 000,000.00 (One Hundred And Twenty Million Naira) annually.

“Dr. C. C. Amah led administration in UNTH Enugu has dramatically and rather unbelievably reduced the cost of clearing grasses in the hospital premises from over N10,000,000.00 (Ten Million Naira) per month to a mere N380,000.00 (Three Hundred and Eighty Thousand Naira) per month! This was achieved by deploying slashing machines operated by local but trained casual workers,” they further observed.

Also to Dr. Amah’s credit, as part of its welfare programme for the medical personnel, the Resident Doctors’ call duty rooms the Doctors reiterated, have received much attention.

While admitting that no management could solve all problems/challenges thrown at her at the same time, the ARD members, however, appealed to the CMD not to take to heart the insensitive, insulting, provocative, reckless and perfidious actions of the cabal.

“We, as non-parochial, integrity and equity-driven concerned Resident Doctors will want to maintain the good relationship we have always enjoyed with the Dr. C. C. Amah led administration which is befitting our professional call and the Hippocratic Oath we all swore to.

The Doctors faulted actions of Dr. Ifedinso Ugwuoke and his supporters on their partisanship and attempt to remove a fly on the face of UNTH.

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