In spite of efforts by Governor Ben Ayade’s administration to raise the health status of Cross River State, most of the health workers in the state do not appear to be on the same page with the governor.
In most of the primary health care centres in the state, officials allegedly beat up pregnant women who cannot readily meet up with their unwholesome levies.
In Calabar, the state capital, a woman in labour who was allegedly brought to the Primary Health Care (PHC) Mayne Avenue, in Calabar South Local Government Area late on Friday, was subjected to inhuman treatment by officials on duty.
Rather than helping her into the labour room, the health workers allegedly demanded for N20, 000 for surgery which cannot be done at the centre.
Before this latest development, 54 healthcare workers in the state are to be sanctioned over alleged extortion of money from patients in different primary healthcare facilities across the state.
Director-General, Cross River Primary Healthcare Development Agency, Dr Betta Edu, made this known in an interview with the News Agency of Nigeria in Calabar, pointing out that the agency had set up a disciplinary committee to look into the petition, including absenteeism and gross misconduct of members of staff.
In Cross River under Governor Ayade’s watch, pregnant women and children not older than five years get free medical care, new hospitals are springing up across the state, including hard to reach areas, existing hospitals are being renovated and equipped, state of the art medical equipments are being procured, health officers are being trained and retrained, accreditations have been secured for hitherto unaccredited training institutions.
After assuming office as governor in 2015, he lifted embargo on employment in the state health sector, beefed up boarders security in collaboration with the World Health Organisation (WHO) to curb disease migration and influx and launched Public Health Emergency Operations Centre, first in any Southern State and 4th in the country with donation of vehicles to ease work of the centre, especially in the area of tackling disease outbreaks
According to Edu, ‘’Governor Ayade is a labour-friendly personality who has been paying workers’ salaries and rural allowances on time and as such, there is no need for sharp practices. Our agency is looking into improving the integrated supportive supervision for members of staff with a view to ensuring that primary health care facilities are open for service accordingly.’’
She has advised residents in the rural communities to always report any erring health worker, who demand money from them for health services.
‘’In the Calabar facility, the health workers pushed the woman with her excruciating pain out of the facility. To make matters worse, a trained nurse who goes by the name Eme Bassey used mop stick to beat the woman, claiming that she bit her hand with her teeth. The said woman was thrown out of the facility and the person in-charge also helped throw her bag out of the facility.
‘’The woman who was in pains went to the grass in front of the facility where she struggled on her own to deliver her baby and was aided by a member of the community and others. After the woman put to birth, the youths in the community went into the health facility to move the said nurse out to ensure she assisted the woman. It was then she reluctantly came out to help the woman deliver her placenta and finally let her into the facility’’, an eye-witness said.
Apparently shaken, Edu has suspended some of her staff with immediate effect for their alleged misconduct. ‘’I spend my time going from community to community to plead with women to leave Traditional Birth Attendants, Prayer houses and homes to deliver in Health facility, then a woman shows up in a health facility and she is beaten and pushed out, what worse treatment could a human give to another human?
‘’This kind of wickedness is unheard of, this health workers will be used to set example for others who have refused to do the work which they are paid to do. Health workers carelessness have lead to death of many women. Our governor has been faithful in paying workers and on time too, he is adding another 1000 health workers to improve things in health sector.
‘’This is in addition to the rural allowance paid as incentives and facility upgrade to improve services. What more could a committed governor do to make things work? Since they have refused to change we will show them the way out and bring in people who are ready to work.” she maintained’’, she said.
Meanwhile, concerned officials said the maltreated woman has been admitted and the DG has provided for cloths for her and her baby as well as other provisions she requires to care for the baby.