The deplorable state of the university hospital, the poor welfare conditions of the workers as well as the shortcomings of the regulatory body have resulted in the withdrawal of Abia State University Accreditation in Medicine and Surgery by the Nigerian Universities Commission (NUC) amid lamentations from the Nigeria Medical Association (NMA) and parents. Daily Trust on Sunday presents details of the development.
JThe deaccreditation of the Faculty of Medicine and Surgery of Abia State University by the National Universities Commission (NUC) was blamed on the near state of inactivity of its teaching hospital, occasioned by its deplorable state and the poor welfare conditions of the workers.
The results revealed that the NUC had revoked the accreditation due to shortcomings discovered by the regulator. The university hospital, which is said to be in a sorry state and not conducive to learning, serves as a training environment for students of clinical medicine.
The College of Medicine was established in the 1988/89 academic session with Akpuaka, FC, professor of plastic surgery as its first provost. In November 1994, the Medical and Dental Council carried out the first inspection of clinical facilities at the college’s teaching hospital complex, and following a second visit by the body in March 1996, the entire college was granted accreditation complete as a medical training institution. in May 1996.
Following the loss of accreditation, the college, which had graduated more than 22 groups of doctors since its inception, will no longer admit new students to study medicine and surgery.
NMA, parents lament
The Nigeria Medical Association NMA, Abia State Chapter, blamed the loss of accreditation on the state government, describing the situation as a sad development.
State NMA Chairman Dr. Chimezie Okwuonu said the situation posed a serious danger to the state’s health sector.
“It was truly devastating news that ABSU Medical School has lost its accreditation by the Nigerian University Commission (NUC). This means that the school will no longer admit new students to study Medicine and Surgery in this citadel of learning,” he said in a statement.
He pointed out that if the medical profession does not have the detailed report of the loss of accreditation, it may not be unrelated to the non-functional state of the university hospital.
“The university hospital is the training environment for clinical medicine students and is part of the teaching facilities. The NUC ensures that teaching facilities are adequate for the number of medical students admitted. These facilities include classrooms, laboratories, museums, teaching aids, teaching hospitals, etc. The NUC is also reviewing staff distribution and qualifications.
“With challenges affecting service delivery in the University Hospital, it is not surprising that NUC accreditation has been withdrawn, although other factors may also be responsible,” he said.
He added that the University Hospital has been plagued with halted operations due to unrest and industrial action by workers over irregular payment of wages.
“Currently at the end of April 2022, ABSUTH staff owe 25 months of salary arrears. Resident doctors have been on a cumulative strike of 18 months, other health workers are also on strike while a few of the doctors, mainly consultants, doctors and locum staff, although not officially on strike strike, largely do not work as work environment is not in order.
“The unions have made several unsuccessful attempts to solve this problem. In the past 18 months, the Nigerian Medical Association at both state and national level has met with the state governor for a record five times.
“If only the government and its agencies had listened and worked with the NMA and other unions and done what was necessary, this loss of certification would have been avoided,” he added.
He said the teaching hospital must be fully operational in order to avoid losing the accreditation of the Medical and Dental Council of Nigeria.
The NMA proposed seven steps that need to be taken “to ensure that the teaching hospital is fully functional to avoid losing the Medical and Dental Council of Nigeria (MDCN) accreditation which usually follows”, warning that “if we lose, clinical training will come to a halt and the students will be trapped in between.
He demanded, among other things, a lump sum payment of salary over the 25 months due, a regular monthly wage subsidy and a committed approach to solving some management and training issues at the University Hospital.
The University’s PRO, Dr Acho Elendu, said the unfortunate outcome was rooted in the deplorable state of the University Hospital when staff were on strike, not on program issues.
He said there was not an iota of truth in the allegation that the withdrawal of accreditation for medicine and surgery was the result of negligence on the part of past and present leaders of the ‘university.
Some parents whose children and relatives are in school have also expressed dissatisfaction with the withdrawal of accreditation by the NUC.
Chief Nwaeze Okpara said he was heartbroken when he heard the news of his children, stressing that parents were apprehensive about its effect on students.
“My late brother’s son is a final year medical and surgical student who is due to graduate in a few months. I know how much we invested in his education, but now we don’t know how it will affect him and others,” he said.
Another parent, Mrs. Chinwe Nnadozie, urged the government to take all necessary steps for the reinstatement of accreditation.
The government wants to restore
Meanwhile, state governor Okezie Ikpeazu said the withdrawal had nothing to do with the technical and professional competence of the university or its teaching hospital.
He argued that the loss of accreditation is solely due to the closure of Abia State Teaching Hospital, where medical students are trained.
The Governor, in a statement by his Chief Press Officer, Mr. Onyebuchi Ememanka, stressed that the development is only a momentary setback, which can be corrected within a few months.
Ikpeazu, who argued that the withdrawal of accreditation only affected the medical school and not the university hospital, added that the development is not a death sentence but an appropriate wake-up call for the faculty solves the problem.
“The hospital was closed due to issues related to the arrears of workers’ wages. The NUC accreditation delegation visited at a time when the hospital was closed,” he said.
He allayed the fears of parents and university students, stressing that medical school students are not affected.
He also held a meeting with some state health professionals. The meeting, which discussed the issue of deaccreditation, was attended by Professor Emeritus Frank Akpuaka, Professor Aluka and Professor Chuks Kamanu.
The Vice Chancellor of Abia State University, Prof. Ogbulu, Dean of the University’s Faculty of Medicine, Chief Medical Director of ABSUTH and Chairman of the Medical Advisory Board of the ABSUTH were all present.
Other participants in the meeting were the Commissioner of Health, Dr. Joe Osuji and the Governor’s Special Advisor on Health Affairs, Felix Chinwendu Joe.