The Governor of Edo State, Mr. Godwin Obaseki, has pledged N25 million as intervention fund for the Edo State Sickle Cell Center, as part of efforts to reposition the facility for better service delivery.
The governor also ordered the arrest of one Dr. Peter Iyawe, who the hospital management has accused of unethical practices by indulging some patients at the center in the abuse of drugs and thereby creating an army of addicts from the pool of patients he was supposed to care for. Iyawe is also accused of vandalism of hospital assets, insubordination to superior authority, among others.
Worried by the harm that may have been done to the patients by the alleged unethical practices of the doctor, Obaseki directed that a petition be sent to the Medical and Dental Council of Nigeria (MDCN), to investigate the allegations against Dr. Iyawe and, if there is any basis for prosecution, he should be charged to court.He gave the directives when parents and guardians of members of Concerned Sickle Cell Sufferers Club paid him a courtesy call at the Government House, Benin City, Edo State.
Noting that the state government was sympathetic to the plight of the sickle cell sufferers in the state, he said his intervention efforts will also include the upgrade of facilities at the center and engagement of adequate staff to run the facility professionally.
According to Obaseki, “government is very sympathetic to the wellbeing of the sufferers and this is why we have released N25 million intervention fund to revamp the facility. This is the first part of our intervention efforts. We will also equip the center and engage qualified hands to ensure better service delivery.”
Commissioner for Health, Hon. Dr. David Osifo, hailed the governor for stepping into the matter concerning Dr. Iyawe, noting that allegations of unethical practices against him have long plagued the facility and deprived sickle cell sufferers of access to the facility.
He said allegations are rife that Dr. Iyawe has been administering Pentazocin ( fortwin), which eases severe pain but is also addictive, adding “the sufferers have become addictive to this drug and Dr. Iyawe has been exploiting them. This army of sufferers that have been exposed to this drug are the ones fighting for Dr. Iyawe. There are alternatives to this drug in managing their condition. I have tried to meet with them, but they have been hostile because they feel that we are depriving them of medication.
“In fact, I was at the Sickle Cell Center recently and ordered the closure of a consulting room, after it was discovered that Dr. Iyawe had been attending to the sufferers in there, even after the hospital management didn’t approve such. But he threatened that no one can sack him except the governor or the Oba of Benin, and has written petitions and fought a lot of people, including the last governor, on this matter.”
He described Dr. Iyawe’s actions and apparent exploitation of the sufferers as unethical, noting that the MDCN must wade into the matter.
Director of Medical Services, Ministry of Health, Dr. Mrs. Helen Eboreime, said that the state has a sickle cell law, which regulates treatment of sickle cell sufferers. She added that due to the shortage of manpower, the Sickle Cell Center ran out-patient services, hence some of the patients were referred to the Central Hospital.
“But when we made this known to the sufferers, they went on rampage, saying they didn’t want it. Due to Dr. Iyawe’s unprofessional conduct, he was sacked by the board that hired him but the army of addicts he has created, hired him and since then, he has been fighting everyone here. Dr. Iyawe has formed a cartel of addicts who now see those of us who want to help them as enemies. He has been queried many times, but has refused to respond. So, we are happy with the governor’s pronouncement.”
Chairman of the State Sickle Cell Board, Prof. Caroline Omoti, said that members of the Sickle Cell Club have sent threat messages to board members, alleging that they have even attacked some staff of the facility.