From Sola Ojo, Kaduna
The Acting Chief Medical Director of the 44 Nigerian Army Reference Hospital (44NARH), Kaduna, Colonel Augustine Omogbethai, an endoscopic Gastrocentric Surgeon, said on Monday that about 80 per cent of patients at the facility were wounded military personnel.
The Ag CMD was reacting to a media report that the hospital pays more attention to the welfare of civilian patients to the detriment of soldiers who have sustained injuries in the course of their duties when the Senate Committee on Army visited the facility to take the tour of wards, where the soldiers are being treated for an on-the-spot assessment.
According to him, since his resumption as the Acting CMD in August 2020, the management had recruited additional 51 nurses to compliment the efforts of over 15 medical consultants to ensure the welfare of the wounded soldiers, majority of whom were brought in from the North-East battlefronts.
‘Soldiers who are wounded in the process of defending the country have the mentality that their welfare… is left for the NASS and commander of the armed forces,’ he said.
‘Some of them have amputations and, as a result, they cannot fight again. Many of them are in their prime of 23, 24, and 25 years. What we do is to do all we can to boost their morale.
‘For example, we run a computer school for them to learn about computer maintenance and repair. We have over 52 of them in the first batch and they are well treated. We get our drugs from the best stores. We are also boosting their morale.
‘So, I was surprised when I read a report that we attend to civilians more than our wounded soldiers. They are 80 percent of our patients. All of us work day and night to make sure they are treated.
‘They brought 95 of them two weeks ago. We got another 56 just yesterday because the war is still ongoing. We are open to receive and attend to them very well because they are war heroes,’ he explained.
Responding, a member of the Senate Committee on Army, Senator Suleiman Abdul Kwari (APC, Kaduna North), told journalists that ‘we are here in commemoration of the war veteran week; first to appreciate our fallen heroes and those that are still alive.
‘What has been the debate in current news going round in the news headlines is what we in the private or government is what we called Workman compensation act. That is, what happens to you if you are undertaking a job on behalf of a company or a country and in the process, you sustain serious injury.
‘It is a good thing that I’ve spoken with the Ag CMD and going through our existing law, we have known how these wounded soldiers can be compensated.
‘As part of the law reforms that we will be looking at, it is important that this is brought to the fore to see how we can cater for these young people whose productive life is truncated while defending the country. Whatever the country does to appreciate it cannot be too.
‘If there is anything the military should applaud the NASS for, it is the frequent calls that the defence budget be improved upon. We know that they have about N900 billion in the recurrent, only about 14 percent go into capital project. The Senate for one and NASS as a body will continue to push for more budget for defence,’ he promised.