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OAU Students Lament Over Alleged Negligence of Varsity Health Workers

Hairat Balogun, a student of the English Education department, at the Obafemi Awolowo University (OAU), Ile-Ife, says she will never forget her bitter experience at the varsity health facility on Dec. 25, 2023. 

Balogun, who visited the health centre to complain about her illness said she was left unattended for several minutes as the official who was supposed to provide her file delayed her for no reason. By the time the hospital attendant brought out her file for examination, the sick lady was asked to get gloves from the pharmacy before she could be attended to. 

Nigerian law mandates that patients should be treated promptly and even prescribes a fine and jail sentence for hospitals and their management that fail to treat patients. But that did not deter the OAU health centre, whose officials often delay the treatment of students. 

There have been a series of complaints from students about the service delivery in the facility. 

In 2021, students took to the streets to protest over the death of Adesina Mary, a final-year student who died as a result of alleged negligence of the health centre staff.  A similar incident also occurred in 2018 when Abiodun Babatola,  a 200-level student died in the facility six hours after he was left unattended. The deceased, who was injured by armed robbers, was not treated by the hospital staff.

Narrating his experience, Benedict Omotola, a nursing student, said he once visited the health centre around “9:50 p.m. to complain of headache and cough, hoping to get attended to swiftly so I could get back to my studies” but he was told to come back the next day to see a doctor without any reason.

He added that a female attendant, who brought out his file and said “Who goes to a general hospital at night to complain of cough and headache.”

Also, Ogunlana Success, said he once visited the facility around 3:00 p.m. and could not leave until 10:00 p.m. due to a delay in service delivery. 

When contacted for comments, the Chief Medical Director of the health centre, Tirimisiyu Olatunji, blamed the poor service delivery on the lack of adequate staff. 

“In the past, before 2020, there were about 18 or 19 doctors, but now there are only 8 doctors. Also, in the past, the health centre had about 50 nurses, but now there are less than 20 nurses.”

He added that to address the menace, the hospital requires more health workers. 

In his reaction, John Odedire, Dean of Students Affairs, said “Your colleagues love to make noise a lot as they want to get to the health centre and get attended to in under five minutes even when they fail to complete their health centre registrations.”

“More than 60 per cent of the medical healthcare givers have relocated abroad. This is taking a toll on the members of the staff who are trying to hold the fort.” 

The dean further explained that “not being attended to on time at the health centre is not deliberate.”

On the issue of the availability of drugs at the campus pharmacy, the dean argued that the health centre is trying its best. 

“Things are already getting better now,” he concluded.

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