Fred Ezeh, Abuja
Federal Government has flayed the poor medical attention given to patients by healthcare workers, saying the development was responsible for the spate of deaths witnessed recently in public hospitals in the Federal Capital Territory (FCT).
Minister for health and commissioner of FCT, Dr. Osagie Ehanire and Muhammad Musa Bello, respectively, in separate remarks at a meeting with medical directors of government-owned hospitals in the FCT, yesterday, said they had received reports of sick persons being rejected outright or told there were no beds for them in hospitals, saying majority of such patients ended up dying while searching for care.
The ministers also decried situations where patients were left unattended to at hospitals after admission, or abandoned while waiting for results of tests for COVID-19 or other ailments, which often took several days, with some of the patients dying before the results were released.
“This is unacceptable and not good for our image and profession. We cannot afford to continue to lose so many of our people, who have found their way to hospitals, only to lose their lives to health conditions, some of which could have been cured. We know that not all emergencies are COVID-19 and we also know that our professional oaths oblige us to save lives and do something medically possible for those who come to us for help. Our calling as doctors and health workers is simply to save lives. We cannot, at this time, abandon such divine responsibility, especially in case of emergency, when our services are most needed. The situation calls for re-examining our system,” said Ehanire.
The minister said he understood that health workers were rightfully concerned about their safety and that government, in response to their fears, had provided personal protective equipment (PPEs), necessary training and an infection prevention and control protocols for doctors, nurses and other health workers to discharge their duties safely, without risk to themselves.
“I am also aware that many patients are left unattended after admission or even die while waiting for the result of their COVID-19 or other tests, which sometimes take as long as three to six days to be released. This has to change and to address it, I have directed that a side laboratory for GeneXpert COVID-19 diagnostic machines, which deliver results within one hour, should be deployed and activated at the National Hospital, Abuja, and University of Abuja Teaching Hospital (UATH) to cut down waiting time. I also direct that basic diagnostic side laboratories be set up at the emergency centres of major hospitals. We shall, therefore, hold each personally accountable for the outcomes emanating from your hospitals. No emergency should be denied attention, even if it means admitting on a stretcher or examination couch to give life-saving oxygen. You are to kindly ensure that patients are attended to with dignity and dispatch,” he said.
The minister disclosed that, alongside his FCT counterpart, they would monitor and ensure that all steps are taken to minimise the suffering of persons trying to access treatment and to reduce incidents that hurt the reputation of Nigeria’s health system.