Don Warns Presidency On Crisis In JOHSU, Calls For Restructuring of Hospital Administration

The outgoing Chief Medical Director of University Benin Teaching Hospital
(UBTH), Prof Michael Ibadin has urged the presidency on the need to find a
lasting solution to the crisis lingering in Joint Health Sector Union. The
medical expert, while speaking at his valedictory lecture held at the Main
Auditorium, University of Benin after 8 years at the saddle, advised the
presidency to deploy a diplomatic move to resolve the lingering crisis in
the union.

“The Presidency can deploy diplomatic channels to resolve the lingering
crisis. This she can do by recruiting the support of the leadership of the
Nigerian Labour Congress in getting the affected JOHESU leadership to see
the economic implications of skipping on the national economy and the need
to be patriotic”.

He added that the leaders of the union should be persuaded by the
presidency on the need to be patriotic.

“The President could initiate the move and make the affected leaders to
place national economic interest above sectional and pecuniary interests.
Once a consensus position is reached out of court settlement can then be
initiated at the instance of either party or on the advice of the Attorney
General of the Federation. An effective date for implementation can then be
set and to appease the workers and everyone should be made to refund monies
earned illegitimately”.

Speaking on the management of the medical centre where he retired, he
averred that the hospitals require Boards to function effectively.

“I am aware of complaints from colleagues of some negative tendencies of
Boards of Management. The benefits of having a board far outweigh these
tendencies when it comes to the effective running of hospitals. In this era
of continuous conflicts between Management and employees, you need a third
party as an arbiter to maintain some sanity in hospitals. I was privileged
to have worked with two different boards and they made their marks in the
Hospital.

He added that the existence of the board should be statutory and tenured
and not left to the whims and caprices of politics. Irrespective of
political affiliation, members of Board should be allowed to serve out
their terms as currently obtainable in Universities, adding that it would
guarantee continuity in style of leadership and stability in the system.
While calling for decentralisation and devolution of Power in the
hospitals, he said the structure of governance of the Hospital as it is
today is over centralised.

“Every mail and every request must first be seen by the CMD. On the
average, the CMD attends to over two hundred mails per day. He spends all
his time attending to one emergency request or another”.

On the need to increased private sector participation in medical
activities, Prof Ibadin maintained that the public health sector has sunken
too deep to be salvaged.

“It is a system whose circle has to close and from the rubbles new life,
that is, a new system has to blossom forth. No form of palliation would do
now. I am amazed when persons comment unfairly on the performances of
government hospitals in Nigeria when they are well aware that hardly do
government businesses succeed. Where are the government hotels, airlines,
shipping lines and factories? The same reasons why they went down and are
going down are also operational in the health sector. That the hospitals
are there and serving is sheer miracle”.

He added that “The average government employee is employed to earn some
wages and not to work. This summarizes it all. If we demand efficient and
effective healthcare system we must be ready to learn from others who have
succeeded. Quite often you have individual comments to the effect that the
Indian hospitals receiving pools of patients from Nigeria are better than
the hospitals in Nigeria. No doubt this is an unfair comparison and
criticism. The hospitals in India where Nigerians are treated in large
numbers are private hospitals and not public hospitals. If we have to
compare institutions across the two countries they have to be of the same
status. Government has no business doing business is a popular saying. The
way to go henceforth is increased private sector participation in the
health industry”.

He also called for restructuring of the governance structure of hospitals
across the country. According to him, the structure of governance of
federal tertiary health institution should be reviewed to permit broad base
participation in decision making by other professional groups. “Just now,
most persons in allied health profession feel alienated by the structure in
place and their fears are genuine. Bringing others on board will not in any
way erode the importance of any particular profession. Others are important
stakeholders in the business but in asking to partake in the decision
making process they should not seek to supplant others, otherwise the much
needed peace in the place would remain elusive.

Prof Ibadin listed recommendation that would put the hospital in firm
footing as following: tackling the menace of skipping, aggressive pursuit
of the appeals against the extant court judgement, changes in the schemes
of service, elimination of the principal position from the schemes of
services, evolving entire new schemes of services, creation of tertiary
hospital commission, among others.

The Chairman of the occasion, Prof G.I. Akenzua lauded Prof Ibadin’s
exemplary leadership for lifting the hospital from a mere consulting clinic
to a world class standard. “I salute the courageous administrative style of
Prof Michael Ibadan; the pioneering leadership of the hospital in the area
of Stem Cell Transplant in West Africa, the numerous capacity building and
training of medical staffers in and outside the Nigeria and the massive
infrastructural development signposted him as a man of honour and integrity.

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