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The Association of Resident Doctors of Chukwuemeka Odumegwu Ojukwu University Teaching Hospital (COOUTH) Amaku, Awka, in Anambra state, on Monday began an indefinite strike over poor condition of service and lack of health infrastructure.

The resident doctors said they were embarking on the strike over the inability of the state government to honour the agreement it signed with the body on the 17th January, 2019 during its warning strike.

In a statement issued and signed by the president of the association, Dr. Obinna Anigbaoso, and made available to newsmen in Awka, he said the strike has become inevitable given the state government’s inability to respect agreement it had doctors.

According to him, “government’s failure to honour the agreement it freely signed with them on 17th January, 2019 during our warning strike necessitated the down-tooling.”

He said, when government signed the agreement on April 2019, resident doctors thought the next thing would be the implementation to improve health care delivery in the state.

“We are asking for the provision of adequate infrastructure that would improve clinical and diagnostic proficiency for improved patient’s care and specialist training.

“Completion and adoption of staff condition of service including granting of In-service training to qualified medical officers,” he said.

According to him, resident doctors are demanding for the appropriate salary scale for staff and full implementation of welfare package as obtainable in other tertiary institutions.

Anigbaoso said the dearth of modern equipments and diagnostic facilities are hindering efficient healthcare delivery, residency training, research and academic progress in the institution.

These, he added, are posing serious challenges to patients’ treatment and production of needed specialist manpower.

“For instance, a considerable amount of patients’ investigations are outsourced at increased cost, the length of admission is increased and with the rising service cost, all translating into enormous financial burden for the common man.

“It is on record that health workers in the hospital earn the least in the country if not in the whole of West Africa. It is also no news that doctors here earn below 50 percent of their actual entitlement compared to their counterparts elsewhere,” he added.

He said the salary hardly meets the necessities of life for the doctors and their families, let alone sponsoring professional exams and academic courses of Residency Programme.

He accused the government of subjecting staff of the hospital to professional stagnation without promotion or progress since employment.

“This pitiful situation has been going on for about 7 years now since inception of the teaching hospital. Consequently, our doctors have become the laughing stock of their colleagues.

“Frustration and disgrace have led to steady exodus of highly qualified and experienced personnel including consultants and senior residents, thus rendering the workforce unstable

“The remnant of the workforce is thrown into severe exploitation hence the recurring incidence of slumps among doctors overstretched and hyper-exhausted on duty. Needless to say, in this scenario, patients’ care and Residency Training Programme suffer terribly,” he said.

According him, it is sad that the hospital being a strategically located tertiary health facility with so much great potentials of supplying intensive specialist care, generating seasoned doctors and cutting-edge researches has been underperforming due to poor funding and government commitment.

He appealed to the state governor, Willie Obiano, to attend to the plights of health workers and that of Anambra citizens.

“We sincerely apologize for any inconvenience or difficulties this industrial dispute might pose especially to our dear patients. We do this for the betterment of our state’s health sector, for quality and affordable health care, for posterity,” he stated.

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