Some inexplicable, inhumane, illegal and “wicked” practice is being recorded at some hospitals owned by the Federal Capital Territory Administration (FCTA). Services at these hospitals have become the exclusive right of those who could afford.
Bed spaces now go to the highest bidders. It is worrisome and a threat to healthcare service delivery in FCT. Patients are at the mercy of the hospital management and other “unkind and unprofessional” health workers to get services.
There are few public hospitals that offer services to Abuja residents and others from neighbouring states. And each of them is daily saturated with patients that are enveloped with pain, waiting endlessly for the attention of the health workers.
Many of the patients spend hours, sometimes days, at the hospitals and are treated with “unkind” words by health workers.
Records showed that the significant increase in demand for healthcare services in Abuja facilities was as a result of poor state of medical facilities in neighbouring states. That perhaps, forced the hospitals to change their operational style to favour certain category of patients.
Investigations revealed that hospitals give preferential treatment to patients with “deep pockets.” It was also discovered that patients’ ability to get quick and quality medical services is dependent on generosity of such patients.
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The development forced patients to pay extra charges to be given bed spaces. Those who could not afford the cost are asked to use low standard facilities that could best be described as inhuman.
Unarguably, population growth in Abuja has gone beyond expectations. The growth, regrettably, was without a corresponding attention from the Federal Government or the FCTA in providing additional basic amenities, expansion or upgrade of existing infrastructure.
There is evidence that, out of 10 new entrants into Abuja everyday, seven never return to their bases. They choose to remain for obvious reasons. That put tremendous pressure on the already dilapidated infrastructural facilities in Abuja. Basic amenities like roads, schools, water system and power have been oversubscribed and over stretched.
Former FCT Minister, Senator Bala Mohammad, created new districts few years ago, as part of efforts to open up Abuja and decongest the city centre.
This was in addition to several other “illegal” settlements that came into being in different parts of Abuja, to provide solace for Nigerians, some of whom were compelled by circumstances to settle in Abuja, with high cost of living, due to insecurity in different parts of Nigeria.
Except for few notable districts that enjoyed little attention from FCTA, the other “illegal” settlements enjoy total absence of basic amenities that ought to make life and living worthwhile. There are no access roads, portable water, schools and health facilities.
Residents of these locations rely on the overstretched basic facilities in the city centre and suburban satellite towns to get essential services especially healthcare services.
Bwari General Hospital
Bwari General Hospital is over 50-bed capacity with approved services in surgery, dental service, optometry, emergency services and others. It my not be as busy as some other healthcare facilities in Abuja with better services, but it is expected to service the health needs of the Bwari residents and environs.
Unfortunately, otherwise is the case. A member of staff of the hospital who pleaded anonymity said: “I felt so bad and disappointed when the hospital could not give adequate medical care to victims of the violence that erupted in Bwari last December.
“On several occasions, victims of road accidents along Abuja-Kaduna have been brought to the hospital for urgent attention but the hospital could not respond. It is a very big indictment on the management and FCTA.
“Patients are forced to pay certain fees to get certain services that ought to be free. The worst is that the management does not spend the money on the hospital. It, undoubtedly, enters private pockets.”
A patient, Samira, described government owned health facilities as “place of death.” She added: “I once visited Kubwa General Hospital and the experience was same. It was even better in Bwari Hospital than Kubwa Hospital. Kubwa Hospital is obviously bigger and entertains more patients than Bwari Hospital.
“There was a day I visited Kubwa Hospital and I could neither get the attention of the doctors nor the nurses. Me and other patients were kept at the reception for several hours waiting for unavailable attention from the health workers. It was a horrible experience.
“I wish I could afford the financial implications, I would have preferred to visit privately owned health facilities for medical attention than receiving insults from health workers in government health establishments.”
Nyanya General Hospital
A patient, Agatha Ezike, said the hospital has undergone tremendous transformation in. She, however, suggested expansion of the hospital facilities to accommodate influx of patients from Nyanya, Karu, Jikwoyi and communities from neighbouring Nasarawa State.
Wuse District Hospital
It is one of the most patronized hospitals in Abuja with over 120 bed spaces. Services in the hospital are more advanced than what is obtained in Kubwa and Bwari general hospitals.
As a result, they attend to more serious health issues in the hospital. But there are worrisome revelations that some patients have been subjected to “community service” due to their inability to offset medical debts.
A former patient at the hospital revealed: “A nurse came one morning and informed me that the hospital management had reviewed my case and agreed that I should do cleaning work that would be equivalent to the debt I owed.
“I had no option but to do that so I could be free from harassment and emotional molestation. They monitored me closely as I cut grass and do other cleaning for two months before I was let go.”
Spokesman of the hospital, Dr. Tayo Hasstrup, denied the hospital offers low standards medical services to patients: “Please call my attention to it and I will dispatch my staff to investigate.
“National Hospital is the mirror of Nigeria as regards medical services and we cannot afford to give Nigerians low standard medical services. What you said might be happening elsewhere but definitely not in National Hospital, Abuja.”
A mother of two, Hilda, said she was impressed with the services she received at the Family Medicine Department of the hospital: “It is not perfect but there are constant improvement as regards medical services in the hospital.”
FCT Health and Human Services Secretariat that monitors the activities of the hospitals and related services denied knowledge of the practice in some of the hospitals. Its spokesman, Mohammed Ibn Yusuf, refused to comment on the matter. He rather referred our correspondent to the General Manager, FCT Hospitals Management Board (HMB), Dr. Aminu Mai.
Aminu neither picked nor returned the calls. But a member of staff disclosed that he might have traveled out of the country.