,On 30th January, 2009, four years ago, Imo State University Teaching Hospital(IMSUTH) joined the league of other accredited medical schools that have been producing qualified medical doctors, as they hosted a successful induction ceremony for their first set of doctors. After a long wait, the occasion came as a glimpse of hope for prospective doctors who have long overstayed in the institution.
The successful graduation of the pioneer students come on the heels of the full accreditation of the college, after unconvincing efforts by the involved individuals to ensure that the school attains the standard that can promptly attract a hitch-free accreditation.
The news of the full accreditation of the college brought joy and happiness to not only the ageing students but their exhausted parents, concerned relatives and optimistic well-wishers. It was an obvious sign of better things ahead, as expectations heightened and fears allayed. The accreditation came after a long spell of ineptitude from the state government which manifested in the lackadaisical administration of the college.
Students took their destinies in their own hands as they turned 'prayer warriors' after 12 years in school without any meaningful progress and with little or no hope of graduation. They took the monstrous matter to God, the Chief Justice of the universe. The students united as everyone took the issue personal, tirelessly seeking lasting solution.
On that epoch-making event, the environment was serene and warm. There were colourful decorations and an air of cordiality with a wide range of dignitaries in attendance as IMSUTH Orlu bubbled with glory and joy.
In 2010, the 2nd set of medical doctors numbering 29 were inducted into the Medical and Dental Council of Nigeria(MDCN), making it a total of 48 medical doctors since 2009. Two other sets of doctors have been inducted since then with the most recent coming in December, 2012.
Though IMSUTH has succeeded in inducting four sets of doctors, it appears to be moving at a very slow pace, just below expectation, considering the fact that each class has a time frame. When the issue of getting and judiciously using a timetable is carefully considered, one will be forced to query any reason for our inability to graduate more sets of doctors with the ample time at our disposal.
Pitiably, the school is comfortable with graduating about 50% of the final year students, even when there is room for improvement, thus showing our insensitivity to the existing traffic caused by the backlog of students whose increasing frustrations stem from the uncertainty of the number of wasted years ahead.
The myriad of problems plaguing this citadel of learning can be traced to the people entrusted with the task of leadership. Sometime ago, it was lack of accreditation but avoidable issues are, cropping up. ASUU and doctors' strikes were sandwiched between the main culprit- the nonchalance of our sanctimonious political leaders.
During Ohakim's anarchic rule, he ignored the Teaching Hospital,calling for the hospital to be locked and the keys brought to him after once naming it a 'poultry farm'.
Owelle's reign promised revival but is beginning to give us a lot to think about. Though, a crusader of free education, his dealings with the state's only university has become a thorn in the flesh of everybody, including the indigenous ones.
The students are yet to recover from the reality of the sudden and unnecessary sack of Professor B.E.B Nwoke, the former acting vice chancellor of IMSU. Even the blind men saw the facelift the school had when he was still in office. Just in the college of medicine, within a calendar year, he ensured that two 2nd, one 3rd, two 4th, one resit 4th and one 5th MB Examinations were conducted. This simply shows that the problems we are having are purely man-made. The lecturers, head of departments and others involved
can be uncomfortable with the status quo as they strive to bring a lasting change in the college.
IMSUTH has suddenly become a battle ground where political heavyweights and the resilient doctors flex their muscles, the patients and students have turned to the 'grasses'.
These actions, like locusts are destroying our once respected Teaching Hospital, which the founding fathers dreamt would be an avenue for providing standard healthcare services to the people, especially Imolites and the training of professional nurses and doctors that will carter for the health needs of the people of Imo.
Sadly, the hospital is under-equipped,under-staffed, the available ones are not promptly paid, the system is corrupt, students' destinies are unnecessarily being delayed; the hospital is on the verge of losing her precious accreditation that took 12 years to get, patients are frustrated but the goverment is not perturbed.
It is high time we went back to the drawing board, so as to know where practical changes should be made. Owelle should govern us well, the administrators of the college and hospital should be enthusiastically pro-active in their work.
Why can't we graduate two sets of doctors in a year? Why can't we graduate more than 45 doctors per set?Must students spend 12 years in school before graduation? Why can't we write our exams as at when due? When are we going to strictly follow our lecture timetables? Must we always live with the fear of losing our accreditation?
Until we rightly answer these questions, we may never have a Teaching Hospital that will stand the test of time.,