A few days ago, Governor Okezie Ikpeazu held a meeting with some selected and very distinguished icons in the medical profession. The main agenda of the meeting was the issue of the withdrawal of the accreditation of the Faculty of Medicine of the Abia State University by the National Universities Commission (NUC).
Top medical icons who attended the meeting included Emeritus Professor Frank Akpuaka, Professor Aluka, Professor Chuks Kamanu who are renowned Professors in the Medical Faculty.
The Vice Chancellor of the Abia State University, Professor Ogbulu, the Dean of the Medical School of the University, the Chief Medical Director of ABSUTH and the Chairman of the Medical Advisory Council of ABSUTH were all in attendance.
Others at the meeting were the Honorable Commissioner for Health, Dr Joe Osuji and the Special Adviser to the Governor on Health Matters, Felix Chinwendu Joe.
After detailed discussions on the issue between the Governor and the Professors, the following points were made clear –
1. The loss of accreditation was solely as a result of the closure of the Abia State University Teaching Hospital where student doctors are trained. The accreditation issue had nothing to to do with the technical and professional competence of the University nor the Teaching Hospital. The Hospital was closed as a result of issues around arrears of salaries of workers. The NUC accreditation delegation visited at a time when the Hospital was closed down.
2. The withdrawal of accreditation affected only the Medical School and not the Teaching Hospital. The implication of this is the Faculty of Medicine of the University cannot admit new students while this situation subsists. This does not in any way affect the students who are already studying at the Faculty.
3. The withdrawal of accreditation is only a momentary setback which can be corrected in a matter of months. Indeed, the eminent Medical Professors at the meeting, who themselves, are leaders and members of similar delegations of the NUC to other Universities made it clear that once the Teaching Hospital can be reopened, the issue of the withdrawal of the accreditation will be reversed within a maximum period 6 months.
4. Governor Okezie Ikpeazu restated his commitment to both the ABSU Medical Faculty and the Teaching Hospital. He gave solid assurances that funds will be made available within the next one month to deal with a chunk of the arrears owed to the workers while making a definite commitment to the regular monthly payment of salaries henceforth. The Governor appealed to the workers at the hospital, especially the Doctors to show understanding of our peculiar financial challenges which have negatively impacted on the revenue profile of the State.
5. The challenge of salary payments at ABSUTH has been a recurring one which even predates the present administration. Upon assumption of office, Governor Ikpeazu approved the payment of 11 months of arrears owed the workers at the Hospital and has consistently approved such interventions with the last one being in September last year, and assures that he will continue to support the hospital to play the critical roles in our Healthcare and tertiary educational systems. He promised that he would do everything possible to ensure that funds would be made available within the shortest possible time to the Hospital to deal with personnel costs.
6. Withdrawal of accreditation of a faculty in a University is not a death sentence on that faculty. It is more appropriately a wake up call for the faculty to fix the problem which led to the situation and on this, the Government of Abia State is determined to do its level best. Several Universities have lost accreditation of some faculties in the past and regained them subsequently.
7. The Governor expressed his deep gratitude to the eminent Medical Professors for their concern and commitment to continue to support the efforts of the State Government in strengthening the Medical School and the Teaching Hospital.
Sir Onyebuchi Ememanka, Chief Press Secretary to the Governor., 12th May, 2022.