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AAUA: The Decadence of a 21st Century University’s Health Centre

The condition of the Health Centre in Adekunle Ajasin University, Akungba-Akoko can best be described as pitiful as it is slowly but steadily becoming a shadow of itself. Students find it more convenient to seek medical attention away from the health department as they have more faith in the services rendered by the external healthcare system.

The loss of belief in the institution’s health centre can be attributed to different factors such as the lack of adequate medical facilities, experienced personnel and drugs. However, the most prominent complaint among students is the rude and indifferent attitude portrayed by the staff employed in the department. It must be recalled that the nonchalant attitude of a member of staff in the department once led to the death of a student, subsequently leading to a riot that placed the academic calendar for that year on standby. In interviews gathered by our reporters, students and stakeholders alike have expressed their views on the condition of the University’s Health Centre.

Sharing his experience at the health centre, Segun Afolayan, a 400 level student of Adult Education said: “I have been to the health centre twice or thrice. When I go there, I observe that there are usually many patients, but insufficient drugs. Most times, the medical personnel won’t attend to us on time. And they often tell us to get our drugs from outside or we should be given part of the drugs, which most times doesn’t cure our ailments. There was a time I was very sick, I had to go to the health centre on a Saturday. I had to wait long hours before I could see the doctor, who was not around at the time of my arrival. In the end, I could not wait due to how I was feeling; I had to leave. The health centre’s services are poor.”

It is widely accepted that the health centre’s performance is determined by the actions and attitude of the workers. How the workers perform their duties will either make or mar the public image of the centre. Commenting on the workers’ attitude, Afolayan added: “There are nurses who are impolite in the manner they attend to patients and they get annoyed easily. Their attitude discouraged some students from visiting the health centre.”

A 200 level student from the department of mass communication who pleaded for anonymity added: “The services rendered there is nothing to write home about. The only drug they often have there is Paracetamol. Putting that aside, some of the staff are not encouraging with their nature. I often go to clinics outside to take care of myself. My hope is that the centre can be adequately funded and supervised to meet all the necessary requirements.”

The major point of a medical centre is to have a place where the sick are tended to and, in this case, it is not only to be utilised by students but also other members of the university community and residents in the area. The school management is advised to prepare for unforeseen circumstances, employ qualified doctors and trained personnel to adequately meet the health needs of the students and also demonstrate its concern for the students’ wellbeing.

Mr Pius, who is in charge of the school’s counselling unit opined, “There is no unit in the university that is a death trap; students won’t tell you their own side of the story. At the health centre, you are expected to register. Go and find out the percentage of students that have registered in the health centre and the number of students that visit the centre. With the little experience that I have, a health centre is a place that students should visit. I want students to understand that every staff of the university is here for them. We are here to be at the service of the students; students are like our customers. Without them, there is no us.”

“The students are our priority, and they are like our own children. We are not a hundred per cent perfect, if there is anything that students observe is below standard, they should forward their complaint to the Director of the health centre or the Dean of Student Affairs.”

The Director of the health centre, Dr Mathew Igboku, maintained that the attitude between the health personnel and the students is harmonious. He blamed the behaviour of some nurses on work pressure and students’ attitude. “The nurses are having a very cordial relationship with the students. There are situations where the nurses even buy food for students before they give them an injection. But there can sometimes be pressure at work, which has happened to even me as the director,” he explained.

“If you visit the wards, you would see so many students and there are emergencies also.  Nurses are obligated to document some findings of the students. You ask a student “What is your name?” and he/she shouts “Is the name important right now, or me getting treatment!” back at you. Nowadays, students are very impatient and the nurses, because of work pressure, might ask such student to be patient, but students will misinterpret the conduct of the nurses as being harsh. They are mothers too and they have children who are in universities. A good number of them have cordial relationships with students,” he added.

He further informed our reporters that the health department often shows benevolence to students who are yet to register at the centre. In his words: “A good percentage of students have registered, but even if you are not registered and you come to the health centre, considering the severity of your illness, we’ll go ahead and treat you because there is space for emergency cards. We can never turn any student away because he/she does not have a health centre card. But, assuming you have catarrh and you come to lodge a complaint and you have not registered, we would not like that because you are supposed to register. What does it take to register? We only need your school fee receipt to register you.”

Speaking further, Dr Igboku explained the benefits of the Tertiary Institute of Social Health Insurance Program (TSHIP) on the students’ welfare. He said: “In the past, we didn’t have enough drugs to give to patients. Every student is expected to pay for Tertiary Institute of Social Health Insurance Program [TSHIP], which is written somewhere on the school fee receipt. This takes care of the drugs we give to people. The good thing about it is that we use the money we get from TSHIP to treat students who have not paid their school fees and those who have paid. We have a good supply of drugs now from this TSHIP arrangement. So, the problem of sourcing for money for drugs is gone, drugs are now available in the health centre.”

“Another thing I need to clarify is that when we refer a patient to the state hospital, the person doesn’t have to pay for anything if he/she has paid his/her school fees. This is also under the TSHIP arrangement. The state hospital will send the bill to the organization covering the health centre, which is known as Health Maintenance Organization. This organization will pick up the bill. At the health centre, we have performed minor surgeries, cured tooth problems and the like.”

“However, if a patient that has not paid his/her school fees is being referred (that is not an emergency case), the hospital will find it difficult sending the person’s bills to Health Maintenance Organization, and the amount they pay if a patient is being referred to a state hospital is more than 2000 naira. So, we implore students to pay their TSHIP dues because it has many advantages.”

“The third advantage of TSHIP is, assuming you are residing in Lagos and you are sick, you can go to any hospital that is NHIS accredited. When you go there and you call us that you are a registered student and have paid your school fees, that hospital will treat you free of charge and send the bills to the Health Management Organization, however, you must have confirmed from us through a phone call. We are pleading with students to pay their school fees so that TSHIP will continue to function effectively.”

Dr Igboku urged the students to desist from self-medication and consult the centre for any health issues. “I have met some students who indulge in self-medication. Some even end up spending over 2000 naira on drugs instead of spending it on feeding. I want to admonish every student to visit the health centre whenever they are ill, especially those who have paid their school fees, and those who have not when it is an emergency. TSHIP cover almost all the drugs that a patient needs, but if there is need of any specific drug, and it is not under the coverage of TSHIP, then the patient can talk to his/her guardian. And if it’s something we cannot do in the health centre, we would refer the patient to a state hospital.”

“I advise students to patronize the health centre. It must be noted that we attend to only emergencies from 2:00 pm. If you have catarrh and come to the health centre to complain at the wrong time, you will be given only Paracetamol. If you have any complaint, come between the hours of 8 am and 2 pm. Students should come to the health centre at the right time, but if it is an emergency, you can come anytime,” he concluded.

Josh Billings once said, “Health is like money, we never have a true idea of its value until we lose it.” A health institution should not be a death trap for patients and we do not expect the AAUA health centre to be one for students. Most times, little things like patience, obeying doctor’s instructions, humility, truthfulness and a little respect are what is missing.

Summarily, we urge students to visit the school health centre often as the Director of the Health Centre assures us that services have been improved and we will receive more quality treatment. We hope the members of staff in the clinic focus more on treating, administering drugs and attending to emergencies to ensure a healthy and productive student body.

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