Students of Alex Ekwueme Federal University, Ndufu Alike Ikwo (AE-FUNAI), have decried the state of the school clinic.
Some of the undergraduate students who spoke to PREMIUM TIMES alleged poor and late service, the inadequacy of drugs and the lackadaisical attitude of officials at the clinic.
They alleged that the situation led to the death of some of their colleagues, although without proof.
However, the university management responded to the allegations, saying it is doing its best to give quality service to students at the clinic.
In early September, a student of the school, identified as Jennifer Amaechi, died after a brief illness. Jennifer’s roommate, Chinemerem Ugochukwu, a Mass Communication department student, said her friend could have been saved had the clinic responded quickly.
“If the clinic had responded fast, Jennifer would still be here,” Chinemerem said, fighting to beat tears. “On the day Jennifer fainted in my room, I tried all the hotlines for the ambulance but none was connecting,” she added.
She said she managed to get her roommate to the clinic on a motorcycle only for her to discover that there was no doctor present to attend to her. Jennifer was later rushed to the university teaching hospital in Abakaliki, some 26 kilometres’ journey, where she was confirmed dead.
Reacting to this, the university’s Public Relations Officer, Iyke Elom , refuted her claims saying, “No student has died as a result of the services at the clinic.”
He said Jennifer had congenital heart disease and her parents later admitted that she had gotten a blood transfusion before returning to school.
“Ordinarily, anyone that has such health issue is not meant to stay far from the parents,” he said.
“By saying there was no doctor on the ground to attend to her, Jennifer’s roommate lied,” the spokesperson said.
In a related development, Victor Urum, a student of Chemical Engineering shared what he termed an ugly experience at the clinic after suffering an asthmatic attack.
“I suffered an asthmatic attack sometime and was rushed to the clinic by my roommate. Surprising to us, we were told that the injections and drugs for asthmatic patients were not available,” he said.
Blessing Dike, a 400 level student of Mass Communication department, said she would rather go to a nearby pharmacy than visit the school clinic if she falls sick. When asked why, she said, “I don’t think they can take good care of me there. No drugs!”
Another student, Okeh Eunice, said that on a day in July, her roommate was delayed for three hours before being attended to at the clinic.
Some other students alleged that the university ambulance does not operate outside the university environment. Others said that the ambulance does not operate after 8 p.m.
Chukwu Solomon, one of the ambulance drivers, said they were given instruction by the management not to operate outside the university environment but countered the allegation that they do not operate beyond 8 p.m. “The clinic has one operational ambulance and it runs 24 hours’ service,” he said.
Rosemary Mmaghiri, a nurse at the clinic spoke to PREMIUM TIMES on the challenges the clinic is facing while blaming students for not proactively seeking medical intervention.
“You’d see a student that is asthmatic, after suffering from an attack and you ask her about her health status and why she is not using her inhaler, she would try to hide that she’s asthmatic. Such attitudes do not help the students,” she said.
“Our MD sometimes spends his personal money to run the clinic. The management has not done any drug purchase for a long time. We’ve made a request for drug purchase, but it has overstayed,” she said.
The nurse also admitted that the clinic has no oxygen and that this has a thing to do with funding.
Medical Director, SUG speak
In his response to allegations levelled against the clinic by students, the Medical Director of the clinic, Henry Aloh, said the clinic has been doing its best and can boast of treating every case brought to it. He insisted that no student has died in the clinic as alleged by the students.
“If any student has something to say, or was attended to poorly, he or she should write and indicate the nurses on duty on such date, put it in our suggestion box,” Mr Alo said promising to query erring nurses if found guilty.
The medical doctor advised the students to take their health seriously, adding that the ailment that brings students to the clinic are mostly malaria cases.
“If a hundred students sleep under mosquito treated net, ninety will not visit the clinic. A mosquito treated net cost only N1500. It is nothing compared to the high cost of treating sicknesses, missing of classes and all the psychological issues related to it,” he explained.
On non-availability of drugs, he said, “Out of stock can happen anywhere, every aspect of the country is experiencing the impact of the nation’s state of the economy.”
The medical director defended the school management on funding, blaming the Single Treasury Account of the federal government which mandates students to pay every fee via a platform, Remita. He said the school does not have direct access to the account and cannot make use of the money for internal expenditure.
The Director of Health of the Student Union Government (SUG), Okedi Williams, said the clinic is not “perfect at the moment” but expressed hope that things will get better. “My team alongside the school management are working effortlessly to see to the fruition of tackling some of the challenges we face at present,” he said.
University authority reacts
Speaking on behalf of the university management, the Public Relations Officer, Iyke Elom, said the university is doing its best to serve students better.
“The school management values the lives of the students and is doing their best to cover the lapses at the clinic,” he said.
Responding to the questions of poor funding of the clinic, the PRO said the university is relatively young and that as a young university, it has problems facing it which it hopes to surmount in the nearest future.
AE-FUNAI is one of the federal universities established by the Goodluck Jonathan administration in 2011.
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