By Ola Ajayi
NIGERIAN Medical Association, Oyo State Chapter has warned about the danger inherent in the recent increase in government hospital bills across the country, saying this could deny people access to health care and force them to consult unorthodox healing houses.
This came as the association reminded the Federal Government to avert another strike by honouring the agreement it reached with the NMA on its demand which should not exceed 30th September, 2009 .
The association specifically called on the management of the University College Hospital, Ibadan to revisit the recent increase in its fees so that the less privileged could get proper and decent health care delivery.
This call was made yesterday by the Chairman of the association in the state, Dr. Damilola Lewis while speaking with newsmen in Ibadan .
He said, the association had noted â€œrecently the sudden and astronomical increase in hospital fees being charged by government tertiary health institutions. Our concern is the far reaching negative impact this will have on the citizens of the country, the state and Ibadan in particularâ€.
The medical practitioners argued that before any increase could be made, the living standard and income of the people that patronize the hospital should have been considered so that their access to health care would not be jeopardized.
The consequence of the increase, according to him, was the reversion of people to the unorthodox healing houses where no solution existed and as such worsening their health status.
He said the effects of the increase were already being noticed in state hospitals where patients who could not afford the crucifying increase now besiege for medical attention.
He gave an instance of Adeoyo Maternity Hospital , Yemetu where a surgeon and his consultant are presently being over worked due to the influx of patients into the hospitals.
According to him, a surgeon would have to stay in the theatre to perform operation on three patients per day. The development, he added, was not peculiar to that hospital alone as he noted that the research he conducted had revealed that some doctors died as a result of overwork.
In the same vein, the President, Association of Resident Doctors, University College Hospital, Dr. Olayinka Atilola said, though, the management of the teaching hospital had the prerogative on the appropriate fees to be paid by patients, his association had written to the authorities to intimate him of low patronage as a result of the increase.
Already, he noted that the effects had taken its toll on the resident doctors as the new bills had affected residency training which he described as the primary aim of setting up the teaching hospital.
The NMA, while appreciating the efforts of the Oyo State Government, confirmed that its doctors still remained the least paid in the South West adding that erecting hospitals without adequate manpower would defeat the purpose of making health care easily accessible to its populace.