Private hospitals, mission homes and traditional birth attendants in Ibadan are recording tremendous increase in patronage following the on-going nationwide strike by health workers.
The News Agency of Nigeria reports on Wednesday that the health workers’ strike which began September 20, had affected normal medical services in federal government owned hospitals and the 54 teaching hospitals in Nigeria.
A survey of patronage in some private hospitals in Ibadan revealed that there was a high increase in the number of in- and out-patients at these hospitals.
At Ibadan Central Hospital, a senior nursing officer, who pleaded anonymity, told NAN that the hospital had been treating an average of 76 new patients daily since the strike began.
“The hospital has recorded increase in the number of patients treated at the emergency department daily. This also includes the ante-natal unit,” she said.
At the Oluyoro Catholic Private Hospital, which is the hub of private hospitals in Ibadan, patients were seen at the emergency and ante-natal units in droves and the private suites were fully occupied.
Attempts to speak with the Director of Administration proved abortive as he was said to be attending series of meetings with some partners.
All the private and general wards were also filled to capacity with patients, while some of their family members defied regulations on visiting times as they stayed in clusters within the hospital premises.
Kasali Akande, one of the residents who spoke with NAN, said he came to visit his wife who had delivered a set of twins at the hospital.
Mr. Akande explained that since the health workers’ strike began, every department in the hospital had been experiencing increase in the number of patients unlike when the situation was normal.
“You have to line up for hours at every health care station, collecting cards at the records; going for lab tests; collecting prescription papers and drugs at the pharmacy had become a nightmare for us,” he said.
Ramat Onide, who is a Traditional Birth Attendant, told NAN that TBAs had been recording an increase in patronage because those patients, who had stopped patronage before now visit them for ante-natal.
“When the allied health workers began their strike, our services suddenly began to record an increase. A home baby delivery which was formerly N3,000 has risen to N5,000.
“After the delivery we send the mother and baby to the local government health centre for drugs and immunisation,” she said.
At the Agbala Daniel Church Maternity Centre, the matron who is a retired midwife said that the strike had little or no impact on their patronage.
The matron, who is referred to as “mama ewe”, said the maternity home which was registered by the state ministry of health, was well equipped to attend to pregnant mothers and babies.
She added that the centre was manned by a retired gynaecologist, a retired registered nurse and midwife who were assisted by nurses and church ministers, and prayer warriors.
At the Vine Branch Medical Centre, Ibadan, the coordinator, simply known as ‘Sister Bridget’, said the hospital has been recording a steady increase in its patronage since the strike began.
“We have had high attendance recorded from some locals around the local government and they are mostly school children, pregnant mothers and babies for immunisation and other treatments,” she said.
In a related development, Segun Sotiloye, Chairman UCH branch of the National Union of Allied Health Professionals (NUAHP), said that series of meetings were going on in Abuja between the NEC of JOHESU and federal government officials.
“Health workers constitute about 95 per cent of hospital staff in Nigeria. Why would the government treat us as if we are irrelevant in the sector? Can doctors carry out our duties? No, they can’t.
“The government should do the needful and attend to us as soon as possible. The strike would continue until the federal government accedes to our request,” he said.
Mr. Sotiloye said their grievances were numerous, including improved facilities in the public healthcare institutions and condition of service.
“We wish to use this opportunity to plead to the members of public to please bear with us as we are not unaware of the hardship this decision may expose them to,” he said.
In a related development, Victor Makanjuola, Chairman, Oyo State Medical and Dental Consultants Association of Nigeria (MDCAN), UCH chapter, said that doctors would continue the best they could to manage the crisis.
“The strike was being managed under best professional practices,’’ he said.
He added that it was normal for patients to seek alternative medical attention when the public health institutions were not available to them.
NAN reports that JOHESU is an amalgamation of six unions of health workers, including nurses, midwives, laboratory technologists and medical records attendants.
Others are the Nigeria Union of Allied Health Professionals (NUAHP), Non Academic Staff Union of Universities and Tertiary Institutions (NASU), Medical and Health Workers Union of Nigeria (MHWUN) and Senior Staff Association of Universities, Teaching Hospitals, Research Institutions and Associated Institutions (SSAUTHRIAI).