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Published On: Wed, Mar 6th, 2013

Delta State: Donors Trace Rising Rate of Premature Children’s Death to Government Neglect

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Barrister Duncan Afahokor and other members donating the incubators to the two central hospitals at Oleh and Ozoro.

Critics are blaming the Delta State government for what they described as a rise in the rate at which premature children are dying. Specifically, these critics say Delta State failed to employ pediatricians to run incubators recently donated to hospitals in the state.
“Governor Emmanuel Uduaghan has a free maternal healthcare scheme, but too many prematurely born children continue to die, especially in Isoko South and North local government areas of the state,” said one source, a medical doctor.

The doctor decried Mr. Uduaghan’s reluctance to hire pediatricians to operate incubators donated in 2012 to the Oleh and Ozoro government central hospitals in the state.
Several nurses at the two government-owned hospitals confirmed that premature births often resulted in death. “There has never been a time the state government provided incubators in these central hospitals,” said one nurse. She added: “We do record premature births. In most cases, they die. At times we refer these cases to Warri, but the bottom line is that several deaths we have recorded are due to the fact that the government has not provided incubators and people to operate them.”
The nurses disclosed that a philanthropic group last year donated two incubators to the Oleh Central Hospital and the Ozoro Central Hospital to stem the rate of child premature deaths. They regretted that the governor had yet to approve the employment of qualified pediatricians to man the machines.
In August, 2012, a group known as Umeh Need Road, donated two incubators to state-run hospitals in Oleh and Ozoro. A source claimed that Governor Uduaghan had asked the group to shop for pediatricians to operate the equipment. “A name and CV were forwarded to the governor more than five months ago, but he has done nothing,” said the source. He added that the governor had ignored several pleas to act by employing the pediatrician whose credentials were sent to him. “Meanwhile the deaths of premature children continue to increase in the above-mentioned hospitals,” said one source.
At the Oleh hospital, a citizen reporter was met by a distraught woman who said she gave birth to a premature male child, lamenting that the baby had not tasted anything since birth. The woman, who gave her name as Mrs. Akpezi, said her baby was born at eight months. “Since I gave birth to the child, I have not known peace because there is no single incubator in the hospital and I was told that we are about to be referred to Warri,” said the new mother. She added: “A nurse told me that this is what they suffer every time and the state government is not doing anything about the situation.”
Two Isoko indigenes said the governor’s failure to provide pediatricians to run the incubators exposed the emptiness of the state’s free maternal healthcare scheme. “How would a man who is claiming to be involved in free maternal healthcare not engage the services of pediatricians to save the lives of these innocent children born prematurely?” asked one of them, a teacher.
Meanwhile, SaharaReporters learned that members of the Umeh Need Road, a Facebook forum, have sent several SOS messages to the governor to live up to his pledge to engage the services of pediatricians in order to minimize the incessant deaths of children born premature.
In a related reaction, a community activist, Geoffrey Osiama, expressed disappointment over the absence of pediatricians. Mr. Osiama, the founder and secretary general of Emede Political Focus Forum (E.P.F.F), described the woes of premature babies and their parents as “inhuman.”
Speaking on behalf of EPFF, Mr. Osiama said the governor occasionally lavishes tax payers’ money on frivolous activities, including the hosting of summits and conferences. He said it was regrettable that the same governor would not “employ personnel to operate the equipment bought by a group…Every child has the right to life but the ineptitude of Governor Uduaghan who is a doctor has denied these children [their] right to life.” He added: “There are several unemployed pediatricians roaming the streets and Uduaghan cannot say he is not seeing them.”
Mr. Osiama challenged the governor to act urgently to address the plight of the parents of premature babies.
Attempts to reach Joseph Otumara, the Delta State Health Commissioner, for his reaction, but he failed to respond to phone calls and texts to his mobile line.
A doctor in the state told SaharaReporters that there was a chance that the donors of incubators may withdraw the equipment if Governor Uduaghan continues to ignore calls to employ pediatricians to operate them. “It is unfortunate that we have the equipment right her, yet parents are made to incur more cost and time traveling far distances all because of lack of personnel to operate the incubators,” he said.

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