By Victor Nwachukwu
Orlu (Imo) – Patients at the Imo State University Teaching Hospital (IMSUTH) have urged the Association of Resident Doctors (ARD) in Imo to call off their four-week strike in the interest of public health.
Many of the patients made the call when News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) correspondent visited the hospital in Orlu on Thursday.
One of them, Mr Sunday Okoroji who has been on admission for seven months, said that the prolonged industrial strike was delaying his healing process.
He begged the state government to hearken to the demands of the doctors so as to enable them resume work.
Another patient, Chijioke Udorie, (9) who said that he was hit by stray bullet, also called on the doctors and government to come to a common agreement and end the strike, adding that he was going through a lot of pain.
“The doctors said that they were not well paid and that they were tired of working on empty stomach.
“I’m begging my governor to listen to the doctors and pay them in full so that they can treat us,”he appealed.
Also speaking, Mrs Nkeiruka Onyekachi, an orthopedic patient lamented that the prolonged strike had been increasing her bills.
According to her, she is more than half way healed and was expecting to be discharged when the strike commenced.
The Chairman, ARD, IMSUTH Dr Bright Chukwunta said that the strike was a continuation of an earlier strike the doctors had suspended after reaching agreement with Gov. Emeka Ihedioha shortly after he was sworn in.
Chukwunta, who was represented by the Secretary General of the association, Dr Chinonso Muokwe said doctors’ demands include payment of full subvention and provision of necessary equipment in the hospital.
The chairman also identified repair of access roads leading to the hospital as on of the doctors’ demands.
“We had a gentleman agreement with the state governor seven days after he assumed office where he promised to restore our subvention to 100 per cent.
“He also agreed to pay arrears of salaries owed us, and fix access roads to the hospital.
“It is almost five months down the line and nothing has been done in that regard.
“This is why on Sept. 12, we recommenced a previously suspended strike on the ground of breach of agreement on the part of government.
Dr Okoro Izuchukwu, a former secretary general of ARD, IMSUTH also said that the health and well-being of doctors was paramount, adding that doctors could not work on empty stomach.
He also said that most of the patients could not afford private health care bill, noting that government hospitals were more affordable.
“We call on the state government to fulfill its promises because government sponsored health facilities are more affordable and easier to access.
“This is why the welfare of doctors here is paramount as we cannot effectively function on empty stomach,”he said.