By Archibong Jeremiah, House Of Assembly Correspondent
As part of oversight functions, the Cross River State House of Assembly, Committee on Health, has commenced an assessment tour of the various training institutions for health care providers in the State.
The assessment which is led by the Chairman of the committee, Hon. Ekpo Ekpo Bassey, was necessitated by the report received recently from the State Nursing and Midwifery Committee set up by the past administration to look into the crisis bedevilling the State health training institutions, following an embargo on admission placed by the regulatory body (Nursing and Midwifery Council of Nigeria) since 2012.
The first point of call was the School of Nursing and Midwifery Itigidi, Abi local government area of the State.
Briefing the team, the Principal of the institution, Sir Aji Eko revealed that the school since establishment in 1982 had been operating with provisional accreditation and by law if after two visits, accreditation requirements are not met, embargo will be placed on such institution by the regulatory body.
The regulator paid a second visit to the institution in 2012 after which the embargo on admission was slammed.
Furthermore, he disclosed that if the school had not admitted before the visit in 2012, they would have been shut down. “luckily for us we had admitted before the embargo else we wouldn’t have students to train, now these students have finished their training, out of the 40 that sat for the professional examination on June 15 this year only 22 passed after projecting 56.
“By regulatory provisions we are to keep them for a mandatory one year before re-writing the exams again, that’s those who failed but we have not seen any of them, this has been their practice when they fail they hardly return to try again. As it is we don’t have students to train again”, he said.
Regarding the state of affairs in respect to efforts made by the State Government to lift the school to the taste of the regulatory body, the Principal said all the projects embarked upon by the State Government are on track.
The hostels, classrooms, offices, ICT and other labs, staff quarters etc. but the challenge according to him is that, a good percent of the project has been completed but the contractors have locked them refusing to hand over the keys because of debt leaving them without access to the facilities.
Another issue raised by Sir Eko is that, there is no source of water supply provided by the government. He revealed that long ago, the past administration had referred them to the State Water Board to create water channels for them but nothing has been done, what they have on campus is a contribution from staff as well as electricity challenges.
The Principal maintained that their staff strength is fair enough as presently they have 50 staff both teaching and non teaching; 9 educators with 7 licensed, two clinical instructors not registered as against what was met by the regulatory institution on visit where only the Principal then was licensed to train.
The two unlicensed educators are currently undergoing a program at the University of Ibadan, sponsored by World Health Organization after which they will be licensed.
Responding to the situation on ground, the Chairman, House Committee on Health, who is also a medical doctor, vowed that he will stop at nothing in getting the school back to work stating that without such institutions, the State will be incapable of meeting its health sector challenges.
He maintained that infrastructure wise, capacity and otherwise the school has the standard and it is only fair for it to be accredited and that the House Committee on Health will officially invite the Nursing and Midwifery Council of Nigeria this time to inspect for accreditation and he was optimistic that the school will get the accreditation by the time the refurbishing of the school is completed.
On her part, the State Director Nursing Services, Mrs. Christie Ekpe maintained that some of the reasons that made the school missed the accreditation were misconceptions on the part of the team. She also reiterated that some of the issues raised by the team such as staffing, infrastructure and others have been adequately addressed.
As part of the tour, the team paid a brief visit to the Ejah Memorial Hospital, Itigidi, which houses the Nursing and Midwifery School where the Head of Nursing Services, Rev. Eno Egbe, called on the State Government to look into other areas of challenges in the hospital as well and not just the training facility.
He reiterated his commitment towards ensuring that the facility continues to serve as a laboratory for the students as he called on Governor Ayade to upgrade the institution to a teaching hospital to meet the regulatory standard and ease the stress for students because that is the only secondary facility in Abi which serves even people from neighboring communities in the State and nearby Ebony.
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