One of the hospitals abandoned by medical personnel
… Residents lament lack of access to medicare
…We are taking war to the kidnappers -Tom Aliezi, Council Chairman.
Okafor Ofiebor/Port Harcourt
Resident of communities across Emohua Local Government Area of Rivers State have raised alarm over their inability to access healthcare at government owned hospitals and health centres due to the abandonment of the facilities by medical personnel over incessant kidnapping and cult-related gangsterism in the area.
Investigations by our correspondent showed that most of the residents in the local government go to Ahoada, headquarters of Ahoada East local government, the University Port Harcourt Teaching Hospital, or Braithwaite Memorial Specialist Hospital, also in Port Harcourt, to take care of their health, depending on the resources available to them and the severity of their ailments.
Some sick persons in the communities who cannot make the long journey resorted to self medication, herbal medicines or seek solace in prayer houses, sometimes, with fatal consequences.
Allweell Eze, a concerned resident in one of the communities, lamented the sorry state of healthcare facilities in local Government area.
“The State owned primary and secondary healthcare facilities in like the General Hospital Emohua, General hospital Elele Alimini and the Cottage hospital, Ibaa have all been shutdown and abandoned.
“Due to insecurity in the local government area, it became unsafe for medical personnel to work in the hospitals and various healthcare facilities. As a result of kidnapping and killings, the state government directed that medical personnel in the various healthcare facilities should be redeployed to ensure their safety,” he said.
Investigations further revealed that communities most affected by shutdown of healthcare facilities due to kidnapping of medical personnel and general insecurity in the local government are Ndele,Ogbakiri ,Rumuji, Ibaa, Ovogo ,Elele-Alimini, Obele, Emohua.
“I feel very sorry for Rivers State People. I hear government want to build a bridge at Garrison, First artillery and Rumuokoro. Whereas important things are looked down on. Even flood case at Rumuagholo and Nkpolu is not important to them. People are packing out and are suffering. Hospital facilities are lacking in most communities and where they exist they lack maintenance,” Precious Fubara Jumbo who is living in one of the communities said.
Another resident of one of the communities, Ogbole Victor attributed the shutdown of all health facilities in Emohua local government to the general insecurity and incessant fights by different cult groups in the area.
Yet, another resident, Lesuanu Nwigoa blame the sorry state of the healthcare facilities on the fact that those who are holding top positions at different levels of government are so privileged that,” little headaches they are flown abroad for treatment,”so they care less about the state of healthcare facilities in localities.
Blessed Ify Eyim, on his part, asked residents in the area to blame kidnappers for their plight: “At least I’m sure of Emohua where they nearly kidnap my friend who was a pharmacist in Emohua General Hospital. Since then all the health workers were redeployed to BMSH.
It would recalled in March 2015, Dr. Azubike Okara, medical doctor working at the Emohua General Hospital was kidnapped and his abductors allegedly demanded N20 million.
Though he was later released unharmed, it was not clear if he paid to secure his freedom.
Since then, Communities in Emohua have been ravaged by fighting by cult gangs and emergence of camps of kidnap gangs and consequently, incessant abductions in the area.
Hijacking of private vehicles and commercial buses and the abduction of the occupants also take place regularly at the Emohua local government stretch of the East-West road.
However, the chairman of the local government, Chief Tom Aliezi said that the fight against insecurity in the area is yielding positive results.
He stated that the government can no longer dialogue with cultists to repent because of the insincerity of some of the supposed repentant cultists.
Aliezi, in a recent press statement signed by his Senior Special Assistant on Information and Communications, Bright Jossy, commended the security agencies and volunteer community security services for the progress made so far in fighting insecurity in the area.
According to him, ” the security agencies with the help of community volunteers are currently taking the war down to the hideouts of the hoodlums and a lot of progress have so far been made.
“Gone are the days when the government wait for them to attack before responding.
“Now they are the ones running and the government chasing them down to their different hideouts. We urge community leaders and youths to support the security agencies with relevant information that would improve the security situation of the area”.
He reiterated his administration’s commitment to providing logistics support to security agencies to enhance their operations in the Area , and commended the Rivers State Government for the establishment of the new security architecture in the state code named “Operation Sting” which, according to him, is already recording great results daily in the local government area.