Over 200 medical laboratory scientists at the University of Nigeria Teaching Hospital (UNTH) Ituku Ozalla Enugu State on Wednesday protested against alleged illegal privatization going on at the hospital.
The protesters under the auspices of Association of Medical Laboratory Scientists of Nigeria, UNTH branch, marched round the hospital with placards, accusing the management of retrogressive policies.
Some of the inscriptions on the placards displayed by the protesters read: ‘Say no to illegal privatisation, ‘quackery by non scientists in UNTH must stop’, ‘ICU stop over charging our patients and give the laboratory water and light to function’.
The protest terminated at the quadrangle in front of the office of the Chief Medical Director (CMD), Dr. Christopher Amah.
Addressing the representative of the CMD, the chairman of the association, Mr. Francis Aneke said they had to register their displeasure over attempts by the management to render them redundant.
Aneke said that the management had embarked on actions that could impugned on the excellent services rendered by the hospital, adding that such had made life miserable for most patients.
He said that a situation where management would approve the operation of a privately owned laboratory within the Intensive Care Unit (ICU) of the hospital stood against everything the institution represented.
He said that while the laboratory unit of the hospital was starved of funds, the private laboratory was flourishing as patients were given specific instructions to patronise it.
He said that the UNTH lab had no water, light and reagents to make them function effectively.
“There is an illegally operated medical laboratory in the ICU which conducts tests at exorbitant costs.
“Patients are given specific instructions by doctors and nurses to patronise this laboratory yet they accuse us of not yielding revenue for the hospital, “he said.
Aneke alleged that an electrolyte uria creatinine and liver function tests which cost N2,000 each were done at N6,500 each at the privately operated laboratory in the ICU.
“The management has refused to recognise the department of medical laboratory services and appoint the most senior laboratory scientist as head in line with the Feb. 17, 2017 judgement of the National Industrial Court of Nigeria, “he said.
Aneke called on the management to take necessary steps toward redressing the issues as well as stop the operation of the private laboratory.
Responding, the Chairman of Medical Advisory Committee of UNTH, Dr. Obinna Onodugo commended the protesters for their peaceful action.
Onodugo said that management appreciated their concerns and demands, adding that the matter would be redirected to where it would be discussed and appropriate actions taken.
“I did not know that this matter has gone to this level. Your leaders have to sit with management for us to have a direction,” he said.
Onodugo assured that the demands and concerns would be communicated to the CMD.
Meanwhile, relatives of patients at the hospital have expressed worry over the high cost of running medical tests at the ICU.
Mr. David Onyedikachi, whose mother had a surgery in the hospital, told journalists that the cost of running tests at the private laboratory was unbearable.
Onyedikachi said that the owners of the laboratory were running it at the expense of patients.
“I brought my mother here for surgery and we were sent to the ICU for a medical test.
“We were charged N9, 500 for an electrolyte test. The worst thing was that doctors in the hospital rejected the result and sent us to repeat the test in another laboratory outside the hospital.
“We went to town and had the test at N2000 and that was the result the doctors used for my mother’s surgery,” he said.
Onyedikachi said most patients were passing through similar experiences at the hospital, adding that the expertise of those at the ICU laboratory was questionable.