By Uzoh Ugwueze & Jude Chinedu Enugu
The University of Nigeria Teaching Hospital (UNTH) is struggling to meet up with basic standards of ordinary hospitals, let alone retain its glory as premier teaching hospital.
From patients to workers in the hospital, tales of woes abound. ‘Nothing is working’ is fast becoming the cliché of people who do business at the hospital.
Enquiries showed that several lives were being lost in the hospital owing to the infrastructural decay and perceived ineptitude of the hospital management.
Relatives of patients have continued to share ugly experiences of how they watch their loved ones die in the hospital without help.
Mr. Cletus Igata from Uzo-Uwani Local Government Area of Enugu State says: “It is unthinkable that in such a tertiary hospital, you cannot even do simple diagnosis. You are either told that there is no light or that the facilities malfunctioned.
“Honestly, nothing is working in that hospital and I don’t know why politicians in the South-East and other neighbouring states are yet to take decisive stand on that hospital.
“I lost an uncle in that hospital because of dearth of facilities. They could not run a test on him when we went there. The option we had was to wait till Monday to run the test in a hospital within Enugu metropolis.
“Unfortunately, we lost him Monday morning. That is what people suffer everyday in that hospital. I don’t advise anybody to go there.”
Resident doctors had on several occasions demonstrated their frustration in the face of the terrible condition of service in the hospital.
In one of the recent protests, the doctors displayed placards with inscriptions such as ‘Pay us our salaries that was given to you;’ ‘UNTH management is anti-doctor’; ‘People are dying!’; ‘Patients are not being helped’ among others.
The leader of the protesting doctors and Acting President of the Association of Resident Doctors (ARD) UNTH chapter, Dr. Nwidenyi Isaiah, said the hospital was in a deplorable condition.
“The shortfall began last December and continued through February and March last year. But there was an agreement with management that the remaining percentage of the salaries will be cleared within one month.
“The hospital cannot conduct any test, nothing is working in the hospital now. It’s just last two weeks that some partners brought radiotherapy machine. Patients go to town to run tests and if a patient bleeding with severe chest trauma comes here, we need to conduct X-ray but because we don’t have X-ray machine he will drive 30km to town to do the test and drive another 30km back. Do you think that patient will come back again? Some will die on their way from UNTH to town to conduct a test which should have been done in the hospital with professionals.”
The doctors are not left alone as a civil society group has also called on the governors of the South-East to save the institution from total collapse.
Speaking under the aegis of South East Agitators, they expressed worry that things have really gone bad in the hospital for the doctors to go to the media to lament the level of decay in the hitherto leading health institution in the zone.
The South East Agitators urged the governors to investigate and address the issues raised recently in the media and take drastic actions that could only save the hospital in the interest of the people of the zone.
In all of these, the Chief Medical Director of the hospital, Dr. Christopher Amah, appears to be slow in addressing the perennial problems. The issues are not new but have remained the way they are from year to year.