Doctors numbering over two hundred, working in the Alex Ekwueme Federal teaching hospital, Abakaliki, Ebonyi state capital have embarked on an indefinite strike despite the threat of coronavirus.
The doctors say their actions is to protest violence against medical staff by patient relative at the hospital
The doctors under the aegis of Association of Resident Doctors (ARD) in a statement signed by the President, Chidubem Osuagwu and forwarded to newsmen in Abakaliki, said the strike will continue until conditions that will guarantee the safety of members are put in place by the management of the hospital.
They noted with regret that they are being forced to withdraw their services at a period when Covid-19 is spreading in Nigeria
The statement reads in Part: ‘the assailant had attacked one of our members on Wednesday, March 18 and went further to threaten to burn down the hospital and stab to death any doctor he finds around the hospital”.
Osuagwu said the recent incident is the 3rd time doctors will be attacked by patient relatives while performing their legitimate duties in the last 2 months.
“Within this same period, there were 4 recorded cases of near assaults on doctors diligently carrying out their duties”,
“We as doctors working in AEFUTHA face very serious challenges in caring for Ebonyians and other patients from outside the state. Most of the time, the patients present very late to us when little or nothing can be done to save them.
“This is usually after they have spent several days in TBA homes, traditional medicine homes or even in their places of worship and are now at the point of death. Most of them come to the hospital with no money and often times the doctors task themselves to contribute money to procure drugs to make sure these patients receive the appropriate treatment.
Doctors in AEFUTHA are often called out in dire emergencies to donate blood to save the life of patients who were brought to hospital in shock from either vaginal bleeding or road traffic accident who require surgery and urgent blood transfusion to stay alive.
“Most of the relatives of these patients refuse donating blood to save them claiming either that they are not the patient’s husband or relative or that they will die if they donate blood.
The Doctors expressed sadness at the ugly development adding that they no longer consider it safe to continue working in the face of glaring threats to their lives.
“Our lives are very important to our families who spent so much to bring us to where we are today and so even if the patients we lay down our lives to save do not want us to live and do not value us, it will be stupidity on our path to remain calm and allow them achieve their evil plans”.
Dr Osuagwu, who revealed that the assailant was arrested and will be charged to court to serve as a deterrent to others, however said more measures need to be put in place to safeguard the Doctors.
“Other things to be done to improve security for doctors and other health workers in AEFUTHA have been outlined and Management has shown willingness and sincerity of purpose in getting these things done.
“As soon as these things are done and we consider it safe to return to work, we will gladly do so”.
“It is very unfortunate and sad that at this time when Coronavirus has become a global challenge and health workers are doing their best to ensure the protection of the lives of citizens, we are forced to withdraw our services because our own lives are threatened by the very ones we lay down our lives for”
“The public should know that doctors are trained to save lives and as humans we can only do our best in caring for our patients. We are not God and so when a patient is brought in a moribund state and we do our best to save the patient and it fails, the relative should not think that the way to show their love for the one they lost is to attack the doctors and health workers that cared.
“We understand that many people who appreciate the efforts of doctors and other health care providers in Ebonyi state and beyond me be affected by this action. We however appeal to them to understand the situation we found ourselves in and give us the necessary support to overcome this challenge, the doctors said.