Edo Resident Doctors debunk Obaseki’s comment on health sector

The Edo State Hospital Management Board chapter of the Association of Resident Doctors (ARD) has faulted Governor Godwin Obaseki’s comment over allegation of corruption levelled against doctors in the employment of the state government.

Governor Obaseki had on Monday during a meeting with doctors drawn from the HMBoard, Edo Specialist Hospital, Edo Primary Healthcare Agency and the Ministry of Health insisted on a new order that will require doctors rendering services to the people to justify their salaries.

The governor said that his administration will vehemently resist the old order and chart a new course to improve the healthcare system in the state, noting that the meeting with the doctors was to discuss the way forward for the healthcare system in Edo State.

In a joint statement in Benin on Wednesday signed by Dr Osayande Edorisiagbon and Dr Ovbiagele Uaboi, president and secretary-general respectively, they described Obaseki’s comments as vexatious and unsubstantiated.

Edorisiagbon and Uaboi noted that they are not aware of any independent panel set up by the government which indicted any doctor for any form of financial impropriety.

They challenged the government to set up such an investigative body and make its findings known to the public.

They said: “It is a notorious fact that several years ago, the Edo State government introduced a direct mode of collection of revenue for services rendered in all government health facilities that effectively makes it impossible for the management of these health institutions to have access to the collected revenue let alone the doctors who render only clinical services.

“Any lapses in the government revenue-collection process must not be blamed on any medical personnel.”

The president and scribe said that they are aware that the entire 34 hospitals under the Edo State Hospitals Management Board (SHMB) survived on a paltry monthly subvention of about N15 million and are able to still generate substantial revenue that is collected directly by the state government.

On the issue of private practice by doctors in government employment, the doctors drew the governor’s attention to the fact that there is an existing law (Regulated and Other Professions (Private Practice Prohibition) Decree No 1 of 1992), regulating private practice by medical doctors in public service, which exempts doctors from the ban of public officials from private practice.

They added that the 2008 Code of Medical Ethics in Nigeria, Part E, 49 states that medical and dental practitioners who are in full-time employment in the public service in Nigeria are free to employ their spare time and unofficial hours to engage in private medical or dental practice.

The doctors accused the governor of engaging in a disingenuous attempt to criminalize and demonize hardworking doctors whose practice does not in any way conflict with the code of conduct for public officials as they are even already working more than the period required by law.

They added: “If it is even true that doctors own private clinics, Central Hospital, Benin City, is an unlikely place for patient recruitment as only indigent patients who cannot afford the cost of treatment in private and federal health institutions patronize the hospital.”

The resident doctors noted that the shortage of skilled health workforce meant that a limited number of doctors have to attend to hundreds of patients daily and it is known that quality health care cannot be rushed.

“It is true that there is an unacceptable disproportionate distribution of doctors between the rural and urban areas in Edo State when you consider that the main urban areas of Benin and Ekpoma axis have UBTH, Central Hospital, Stella Obasanjo Hospital, Irrua Specialist Teaching Hospital and several private hospitals between them.

“The association has over the years shouted itself hoarse on the need for the state government to employ or engage the services of more doctors due to the acute and now chronic shortage of manpower.”

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