By Vincent Ujumadu
AWKA- AFTER two months of staying away from their duty posts to drive home their demand for improved working conditions, Resident Doctors at the Chukwuemeka Odumegwu Ojukwu University Teaching Hospital, COOUTH, Awka, have returned to work. At some point during the strike, consultants in the hospital also joined, thereby grounding all activities in the tertiary health institution. Even medical students taking their examinations were affected as the consultants, many of who also doubled as lecturers, cared less.
While the strike lasted, interested parties outside the hospital fuelled antagonism between the doctors and the management of the health institution. A section of the striking doctors allegedly sponsored by some people eyeing the office of the Chief Medical Director, deviated from the demand for improved welfare of the doctors, to asking for the removal of the CMD, Dr. Basil Nwankwo.
However, on realising the unpopularity of the demand for the removal of the CMD, who had within the period he had been on the saddle, executed a number of landmark projects that had placed the hospital among well–equipped hospitals in the South- East, the striking doctors made a detour, explaining that fighting the CMD was not part of their original plan.
President of the Nigerian Association of Resident Doctors, NARD, in the hospital, Dr Obinna Aniagboso and secretary, Dr Chidiebele Egolum said they decided to obey Governor Willie Obiano’s request for them to suspend the strike in order to give the state government time to complete the ongoing personnel audit and financial analysis in the hospital.
They condemned in strong terms the alleged infusion of personal interests into the doctors’ struggle by some individuals and the attempt to use the resident doctors to achieve inordinate personal ambitions.
The NARD officials said: “We maintain that resident doctors have never advocated for the removal of the CMD, Dr Basil Nwankwo. We considered the plight of our teeming patients who have become stranded and deprived of quality care throughout our protracted industrial action. There has been a consensus by all concerned parties that the resident doctors’ struggle is just and therefore the need to address their challenges in order to retain trained experienced personnel and improve the standard of clinical services in COOUTH.
“In calling off the strike, we also took cognizance of the resolution of the Nigeria Medical Association, NMA, leadership and elders’ meeting, which advised the resident doctors to suspend the strike along with the Medical and Dental Consultants Association of Nigeria, MDCAN.Considering the foregoing, we passed a resolution to suspend the industrial action for one month and to resume work immediately. We take this bold step in good faith with the expectation that the state government and management of COOUTH will not relent in their end until our agreed objectives are fully actualised.”