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An Open Letter to Gov. Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi on the Looming Exodus of Parklane Doctors

An Open Letter to Gov. Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi on the Looming Exodus of Parklane Doctors

Your Excellency,

The Enugu State Teaching Hospital (ESUT-TH) Parklane Enugu was founded by the then Governor of Enugu state His Excellency Dr. Chimaroke Nnamani as he upgraded it from the Parklane General Hospital to a Specialist Hospital and subsequently to a Teaching Hospital.
This singular action was a stepping stone towards achieving *full accreditation* of the College of Medicine of the Enugu State University of Science and Technology (ESUT) which was realized fully by Bar. Sullivan Chime (Nnamani’s successor)

It is very important to note that to actualize his vision, of a world class health institution for excellence, Dr. Nnamani utilized the powers of his office to harness the best brains irrespective of ethnic, religious or state of origin bias.

We all remember his story during the visit by some of us to his country home when he succinctly went down memory lane detailing his vision and mission for ESUT-TH Parklane.
He concluded by emphasizing that he appointed people he knew would deliver as he would not entertain excuses *even from his own teachers* whom he attracted to see the fulfillment of his set objectives.

He spoke as a fulfilled man as he had built an institution that will continually make a positive impact in the life of the citizens of Enugu, especially as regards their health care.

He recalled how the first surge of mass exodus of doctors hit ESUT-TH Parklane owing to the poor remuneration. I, for one left ESUT-TH Parklane to do my Housemanship in UNTH despite the fact that I had to journey to Ituku-Ozala, where the hospital is situated, on a daily basis. The stress of the trips paled in comparison to the strenuous nature of work in ESUT-TH which increased exponentially as more doctors left for greener pastures leaving but a few behind to serve the ever increasing patient population. Once the root cause of the constant egress was brought to the attention of His Excellency, “Chi boy” as he was fondly called, quickly brought men to thinker the way forward. They resolved that the best way to stem the tide was to improve the remuneration of the doctors. This he immediately implemented after reviewing the payment structures of Federal institutions which had afore enticed his employees. However, he did not limit himself to bridging the disparity in pay, but exceeded it by paying higher and hence brought healthy competition as well as attracting the best of brains into ESUT-TH Parklane. With the new crop of well-motivated doctors, he was able to float and sustain the free maternal and child health program that was lauded by both local and international organizations. This distinguished ESUT-TH Parklane as one of the foremost health institutions in the Southeastern region.

One may wonder why this journey down memory lane. Sydney Harris said “history repeats itself, but in such cunning disguise that we never detect the resemblance until the damage is done.” In the case of ESUT-TH Parklane, it is certain after a decade of thriving on the achievements of its founding fathers, history is indeed repeating itself.

However, there is no concealment of the matter; another surge of mass exodus of doctors looms. Over the years there has been exits of doctors in small clusters, but the magnitude and frequency of this has heightened in recent times. There has been continuous exodus of Doctors from ESUT-TH Parklane Enugu to sister teaching hospitals like UNTH (Enugu State), AEFUTHA (Ebonyi State), and NAUTH (Anambra State) as a result of the unwillingness of the government of Enugu state to address the protracted issue of remunerations of its doctors in ESUT-TH Parklane which has lasted for *over four years*. This is despite continuous advocacy, appeals, and pleas from the doctors and other stakeholders. This is asides the current brain drain to UK, America, Saudi Arabia and Oman plaguing the nation as a whole. To buttress this, the hospital in the fourth quarter of last year advertised for vacancies for about 150 doctors, but this was met with a rather unenthusiastic response from potential applicants. Eventually, all who applied were interviewed and virtually same were offered appointment. Despite the expedited nature of the employment process, just a fraction decided to take up the offer of employment. Suffice to say that the little attraction faded like a candle in the wind as not too long after, a significant number migrated leaving a deficit that put the hospital back to status quo.

Your Excellency, this vicious cycle is driven by the fact that the workload of the doctors who have stay behind is over burdensome akin to the plight of the Jews being tasked to make brick without the supply of straw. In addition to the strain of work on their physical and psychological wellbeing, these doctors as exposed to both verbal and physical assault by aggrieved patients and patient relations consequent upon the nosedive of the quality of service delivery. This labour has become too much to bear, particularly in light of the wages, that the only logical option is to exit the system.

As Ronald Wright rightly said “each time history repeats itself, the cost goes up (comes at greater consequences).” The situation is indeed grim, and one can only wonder if Enugu state with a population that is almost twice the figure from over a decade ago can pay the price. Can a collapse in the health service provided by the state government be remedied? With the current state of panic aroused by the sting of the Covid-19 Corona virus pandemic, one can only wish that the implications of such an event remains imaginary.

Your Excellency, we will like to end with the words of Collin Powell “Great leaders are almost always great simplifiers, who can cut through argument, debate and doubt, to offer a solution everybody can understand”. The solution to this malady is not farfetched. It has been implemented before and I believe His Excellency can do it again. *Taking doctors in ESUT-TH Parklane to the courts will not solve the problem*. We beckon on you to wet our parched throats and avoid this incessant movement of your doctors to “more fertile lands”.

We implore His Excellency, the Executive Governor of Enugu State, to as matter of urgency, implement the payment scale for Parklane doctors as approved by the Federal Government.

Just as the Igbo adage says “eme ngwa ngwa, emeghara odachi”, let your wisdom prevail and avoid the impending calamity that is looming.
Bags are packed, watering cans are filled, all we wait is for the anthem which signals “to thy tents O Israel”

National Association of Resident Doctors (ESUTH Chapter)


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