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Monday, 8 February 2016

Why We Are Angry With Rochas, Say Imo Doctors


. Demand Review of Concession of  Govt Hospitals.
. "Police Dispersed Our Protest Based on Order From Above".
. Commissioner of Health Is Not A  Medical Personnel.

Injured Dr.Azudialo
Doctors in Imo State under the aegis of the Nigeria Medical Association, Monday, February8th, 2016 explained why its working relationship with the Rochas Okorocha administration is frosty.

They expressed concern over what it described as “anti-life policies” of the government which prompted them to embark on a peaceful protest in Owerri last week.

It said the protest where one of their colleagues, Dr.Bede Azudialo was injured by the police was to draw the State government’s attention to several issues militating against the growth and development of the health sector in Imo State.

 Speaking during a radio programme in Owerri , the doctors represented by Emeka Uwa (Vice Chairman), Emeka Obioha (former Imo State Chairman, NMA), and Jide Egwim, also a past State Chairman of the Nigeria Medical Association, Imo State branch, said the protest by the doctors  was orderly but an “order from above” to the Police led to firing of teargas canister on one of their members.

“Our protest was peaceful. We informed the Nigeria Police, the State Security Service and the Federal Road Safety Commission (FRSC) of the peaceful protest. We spelt our destinations and areas we will protest. From the NMA office in Owerri, we marched, clad in our all white attire and was escorted by the Police”  

“When we wanted to march to Government House, the Police which have been escorting us suddenly began to fire teargas canisters at us and this wounded our colleague, Dr. Bede Azudialo. There were also gunshots” the Imo NMA boss stated

The doctors said at no time was the protest infiltrated by hoodlums contrary to the claims of the Police.

“Everyone witnessed the protest. The media was there. We believe the Police got directives from above to unleash terror on us particularly when we wanted to march peacefully to Government House. And we demand that the Police in Imo State should fish out the officer that shot one of our colleagues.It was a miracle our colleague survived the shot.” Dr. Obioha stated

As part of the issues which necessitated the protest, the NMA officials said they are opposed to the appointment of a legal practitioner, Barr (Mrs) Ngozi Njoku as Commissioner of Health of Imo State, arguing that the State Commissioner of Health must be a medical personnel.
On the concession of general hospitals in the State, the NMA officials said it is unacceptable because of the manner it was carried out by the Imo State government, stressing that the NMA in the State are not carried along in the concession process.

“We are not carried along in the concession of these hospitals. Government is not following the rules. The idea of concession is that there should be a negotiated agreement between the government, the NMA and the third party (private hands who want to run the hospitals).  The three parties must make free choices. This is what concession is all about. You do not suspend health workers to pave way for concession. Suspension of workers has rules and these suspended workers were suspended without due process” the NMA team stated.

The doctors complained of huge taxation imposed on medical practitioners in Imo State, stressing that doctors are squeezed by heavy taxes levied on them by the State government.

“There are heavy demands on us. The process of establishing a hospital in the State is cumbersome. There are multiple taxation, a situation which is capable of scaring away investors in the health sector of the State.

The NMA officials said the Imo State government has never dialogued with them on issues affecting the health sector, saying that several letters/requests for a round table discussion with the State governor has been rebuffed.

“Government has never honoured our request for dialogue. This is why we decided to embark on the protest to deliver our demands to them” said Dr. Egwim, a member of theNMA team declared.

The NMA officials said government owned hospitals in Imo State are in a sorry state as they lack medical equipments and tools to cope with the increasing health demands of the people.

 “We advised the State government to desist from the construction of 27 General Hospitals in each of the 27 Local Governments in Imo State which was unnecessary and a huge drain on the finances of the State and rather focus on equipping the existing ones, train and retrain the medical personnel to be in tune with modern medical practice.

“We also suggested to them that existing hospitals in the State should be equipped and two ultra modern hospitals built in each of the three geo political zones of the State. This was also roundly rejected by the State governor.

“They went ahead with the construction of the 27 General Hospitals in the local governments. Most of them have not been completed. And we do not have enough health centres in the State and it is regrettable that that the old general hospitals are being concessioned by force.

“ So, you can see that the  secondary tier of the health sector in Imo State which is the responsibility of the State government is not productive.  Dr.Obioha declared.

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