The nationwide industrial action by the Nigeria Medical Association (NMA) in support of their demands has resulted in crippled services in government hospitals in Ondo State.
Many of the hospitals visited by SaharaReporters showed that many needy patients have been left in distress.
At the State Specialist Hospital in Akure, activities were at their lowest ebb, with the environment deserted, and no medical doctors available. Nurses were however at work to give assistance to patients whose condition warranted their attention.
The over-populated wards of the hospital which normally enjoys the heavy presence of doctors however had other health workers available to in-patients the conditions of whom are really bad.
The Accident and Emergency (A and E) units of the hospital, which also treats emergency cases, were also deserted.
The male ward was empty, with nurses busy sorting out pending files. In the female surgical wards, a few patients listed in critical condition were on their beds sleeping.
Senior Nurses could be seen in the Children Surgical wards of the hospital attending to the children with care; some were being bathed.
At the General hospital in Okitipupa, patients who had decided to check our told our correspondents that they were going home and hoped to live on their medications pending the end of the strike.
Nurses at the hospital disclosed that they were overburdened, and had had to advice patients to leave the hospital wards in their own interest.
Any emergency cases, they disclosed, would probably be referred to private hospitals if they were beyond their capacity to handle.
At the Ikare Akoko General hospital, nurses were managing the few patients in the wards. They were administering drugs to in-patients when SaharaReporters’ roving correspondents visited the hospital.
The nurses confirmed they were only attending to in-patients, and that new patients were being prevented from obtaining hospital cards for treatment.
At Ido Ani government hospital, no doctor was available. Some patients were seen pleading with nurses to give them drugs.
SaharaReporters gathered that many of the patients had been advised to check.
As a result of the strike, private hospitals in the state are now making a booming business as patients throng into their facilities.
At the Mother and Child hospital (where?), skeletal activates are in place. The nurses refused to speak with our correspondents, but a few doctors were seen in their premises, donning their stethoscopes.
The situation was also the same at the Federal Medical Centre in Owo, where only nurses and other junior health workers were attending to in-patients. New patients were being instructed to seek treatment in the private hospitals.
Nurses told SaharaReporters in the various hospitals that no casualties had since been reported, and assured that they were coping with emergencies.
Patients with whom our correspondents spoke pleaded with the striking doctors to sheathe their swords in the interest of those who need them.
Stella Johnson, a pregnant patient currently on admission at the Specialist Hospital with her baby for kerosene burns suffered in an explosion, said that quick resumption of the doctors is the only means of salvaging their situation.
Mrs. Johnson disclosed that the nurses have being taking care of them since the doctors embarked on their strike.
"Its quite unfortunate, that doctors are on strike without considering the plight of the sick,” she said. "The Nurses are the ones taking care of us, they are trying their best to make sure we receive proper attention.”
Her two and half year old child, Oluwaferanmi, who also suffered injuries in the explosion, was admitted at the Children Surgical ward of the hospital.
His condition is critical, with his mother Stella writhing in pain on her hospital bed, crying and pleading with doctors to call off their strike.
Mrs. Mary Agbaje, who had earlier undergone an operation at the hospital, and is waiting completion of her treatment, the best thing is for the doctors to reconsider and call off the strike in the interest of the patients.
"Have done my operation but only waiting doctors to give me a complete treatment as they have promised,” she told our correspondent. "We the patients are the ones suffering from the strike. We are appealing to the doctors to please call off their strike in the interest of the sick".
Also speaking on her hospital bed, Mrs Paulina Uche appealed to the Federal government to accede to the demands of the striking medical doctors, adding that this would bring life back to the hospital as the patients are desperate to enjoy the attention of the doctors.
Catherine Banso, the Head of Nursing Service II, HNS, at the State Hospital, confirmed that the nurses have been doing their best since the commencement of strike to manage the patients.
"It is the responsibilities of the nurses to manage the patients since they have gotten their drugs, and we have been doing such.
"We care for them such as bathing for some who need such attention, and we also manage the wounds and give them other nursing cares that are very important. We have been trying our possible best in managing them.”
The strike action enters its fifth day on Friday.