The strike embarked on by the Dental Consultants of Nigeria (MDCAN) in Chukwuemeka Ojukwu Odumegwu University Teaching Hospital (COOUTH), Awka, has taken a negative toll on the patients in the hospital.

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Members of ARD embarked on an indefinite strike on May 13 over what they called poor working conditions, while MDCAN commenced a seven-day warning strike on June 3 over the same reason.

The association said it would embark on indefinite strike action by the third week of June if Anambra Government failed to address their grievances which bothered on general welfare and proper equipment for the hospital.

Reports say that patients have deserted the hospital wards, while those who are still there are those who have yet to pay their bills but without hope of medical attention.

The wards that are largely affected are the Male and Female Surgical Wards, Male and Female Medical Wards, Children’s Ward, Gynecology, Antenatal and Babycare Wards.

Emergency medical services were going on at the General Outpatients Department (GOPD), Specialist Out Patients (SOP), and Accident and Emergency and Children Emergency Response Units.

Ujuka Ifediba, patient in the female surgical ward who said she had spent over a year in there, said she had been advised to leave COOUTH for another hospital where she could access medical attention.

Ifediba said she was brought in from Lagos last year after a container fell on her and had neither stood nor walked since the accident.

She said she could not leave the hospital as it would aggravate her condition and called on the state government and the striking doctors to find a lasting solution to the face-off to enable them attend to patients.

“I have been lying faced down for more than a year, doctors have been working on my wound which is gradually healing but the surgery has not been done.

“For about two weeks, no doctor has attended to me because they said they are on strike, they have said I should go to another hospital but that is not possible, I cannot move from here because I am in pain.

“Even if we pay the bill, I cannot go from here because of the severity of my condition, so I am calling on Anambra Government to give these doctors what they want so that they can attend to us, moving out is not the option,” she said.

Master Emeka Iloh, a patient in the scanty medical ward, said he had yet to recover but could not go because his mother could not pay the cost incurred.

Iloh said most fellow patients in the ward had been moved out by their families because the doctors were no longer seeing them.

“I have been here for three months, my problem is that I had an accident which affected my bones, my joints cannot bend normally and I have injury at the back of my lap, they have been treating me but I am not alright.

“They said I should go but the doctors are not here to evaluate what they have done, I have not seen them for about three weeks because they are on strike,” he said.

Emeka’s mother, Mrs Susan Iloh, who is with him in the virtually empty ward, said they were still in the hospital because of their inability to pay the bill which was served them.

According to Iloh, we were given a bill but we are not able to pay that is why we are still here, we need help, I beg the good people of Nigeria to help us pay N340,000 so that my son and I can leave here and go to another place.

Okoye Ikechukwu, another male patient, said he had been discharged and was waiting for his bill to be given to him for payment so that he could go.

“They have operated on me, I have been discharged but they have not given me bill so that we can pay and go,” he said.

Reacting to the situation, Dr Basil Nwankwo, Chief Medical Director of COOUTH, said efforts were on to bring back the doctors to their duty posts.

Nwankwo said the strike notwithstanding, the hospital management had ensured the public had access to emergency services in the GOPD, SOP, Emergency Units to ensure the masses did not suffer.