Thе Public Hоѕрitаl factor threatening ԛuаlitу healthcare асrоѕѕ Nigeria

Lаѕt wееk, a rероrt was released аnd it called аttеntiоn tо humanitarian crisis, mаnifеѕtаtiоnѕ оf corruption аnd miѕmаnаgеmеnt аt thе fеdеrаl gоvеrnmеnt-оwnеd Lagos Univеrѕitу Tеасhing Hоѕрitаl, (LUTH).

The report released by Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP) noted the hospital and few other government-owned hospitals in Lagos are in unhygienic conditions, and are dealing with severe shortages of medicines and medical supplies.

According to the report, these issues at the three federal government-owned hospitals in Lagos make it extremely difficult for many Nigerians to obtain essential medical care.

But the Nigerian government was quick in its response and coordinated denials. The hospitals affected issued statements slamming the report and describing claims as untrue. LUTH described the report as jaundiced and insincere.

“The study was rife with anecdotes, innuendoes and anonymous quotes. It convincingly the criteria for true research,” LUTH stated.

The hospital management said there is no crisis at the hospital, and there is no reason for any. Although several paragraphs later, it admitted that its facilities are overstretched and a block of 120 beds have been withdrawn thus creating bed constraints.

Federal Medical Center (FMC) Ebute Metta was also mentioned in the report has experiencing similar difficulties although its management also issued a sharp rebuttal of the report.

“There has been a massive upgrading of equipment, clinics, and training of personnel in the facility in the last one year. This renders the claim of SERAP as mischievous,” the hospital responded.

While arguing it does not need cancer treatment machines even though it offers some forms of cancer treatment, the hospital noted it has 4 functional dialysis units that are operational round the clock.

“The hospital’s wards have been upgraded to international standard…Our patients are very satisfied…Many corporate organisations are signing up with the hospital for the medical care of their employees. Our admission facilities are better than majority of the top range private hospitals in Lagos, yet we are a Public Hospital,” the hospital boasted.

You can read the report here.

Let’s unpack the rebuttals

Few years ago, confirming the validity of the SERAP report and the hospital managements’ denials would require making unannounced visits to the hospitals. But these days, it is much easier to know if wrong stuffs are going at public hospitals thanks to the advent of the internet. Just search for LUTH and several citizens’ reports of nasty experience at the facility would come up. The one below actually caught my attention and is a true reflection of the major problem that citizens have with public hospitals across Nigeria. Negligence.

The attention to specific details indicated this was a true account. And in an effort to comfort the person that wrote the piece, several other Nigerians described their experiences at the hospital and several others. You can read them here.

But these ones caught my attention:

Here is one:

“Lost my mother too because there was no power supply at UCH Ibadan to run the dialysis machine. 2 patients needed that machine around 12 midnight, there was nothing we could do. Not even referral letter could be signed to move them out. Money wasn’t the problem. We watched them die almost the same time. Nigerian politicians, your children will lavish everything you have stolen and your generation will never be heard of again.”

Here is another: “I can remember vividly when I was still in Nigeria. I was rushed to the hospital one day late in the night. On getting there, the nurse that we met was pregnant and was reluctant in attending to me. She later told me to come back the following day that the doctor at duty wasn’t around. She told me to go and use paracetamol that I will be OK. I was almost crying. How can Nigerians be this heartless, “I said in my mind.” That was the day I knew that our lives are not safe in the hands of Nigerian medical practitioners. I went home sad that day, facing the realities of life all alone. Nigerian hospitals couldn’t save my life when I needed them most.”

Another one: “This same negligence killed my elder brother in LASUTH Ikeja. We had everything they wanted. Just to conduct test, they delayed for many hours. It was when my brother died they requested for autopsy. I would never advice anyone to visit any of the teaching hospitals. They are death homes.”

Yet another account:

“Any time I hear people talking about LUTH, I flashed back to my late father and all what he went through from the so called students doctors and unqualified doctors in that hospital.

“I was at LUTH last year and I was shocked at the state of decay of infrastructure and other facilities on ground there.”

Here is one: “Whenever I hear about LASUTH I curse them from inside, they are so stupid over there. My younger brother died in that hospital last year after he was hit by a vehicle. He went into coma he couldn’t see anybody still they didn’t pity us. We begged them for a while until they attended to us. We bought every drug instantly, paid for scan, did brain test, spent over 150,000 within two hours just to save him. I ran everywhere within LASUTH Ikeja to make sure my brother survives. They didn’t give us a bed space on time, they were just doing nonsense, no oxygen inside their ambulance to take him for brain scan in their nonsense laboratory. Everything was just nonsense until about 4 in the midnight when he wanted to breath his last, then they started running, they were about eight but it was too late they couldn’t save him..

All the drugs bought were given to a pharmacy in our area plus we didn’t do a scan of NGN36,000 which I paid in advance that they would do for him when they have oxygen in their ambulance.. We just lost everything. To be honest, government hospitals are trash. We made a mistake which we all regret, we could have taken him to a big recognized private hospital. Next month makes it a year I lose him.”

There was also an account of a doctor at LUTH that was always crying about his experience at the hospital.

“My colleague’s husband had to relocate to Canada because he was tired of seeing needless death in LUTH. He is a doctor that will come home crying sometimes because of his experience at work [LUTH] almost on daily basis. There is so much ugly experiences in LUTH. A friend almost beat the staff when his wife wanted to give birth, he swore never to step in LUTH again. My boss was on ground crying when his wife was put on a mere plank because there was no bed.

“Took my daughter there once, and I didn’t spend 5 minutes because you can go there with a mere headache and come back with typhoid fever. I didn’t stay long there also because the whole place was crowded, consulting rooms looked unkept, waiting rooms feel like ovens.

“My wife’s friend who is a doctor there advised us to avoid LUTH. Lifeline in Surulere, though expensive, is where I use for my kids before I changed to Jolad.”

This one also caught our attention:

“I had this horrible experience exactly 3 years ago with General hospital, Ifako-Ijaiye, LASUTH and LUTH on a single day. I took my younger brother to Ifako on emergency. No competent hands, so I was referred to LASUTH, where they said there is no bed and was referred to LUTH. At LUTH, it took several hours before they came to take his blood pressure under the sun in an open place. Imagine someone who is weak already. After this, they said there is no bed, but told me to go and see if I can get from a private facility within the complex. The place too was already filled up.

“It took the grace of God and a friend who later recommended a private hospital after we’ve wasted several hours looking for health solution from government hospital. Since then, I never prayed that they take even my enemy, talk less of a friend to any Lagos government hospital. They are all death trap full of arrogant medical elements!”

In the multitude of the various accounts, someone said: “LUTH is the worst place to take anyone. It’s better to just let the person die at home.”

A student at the institution (LUTH) also recounted a personal experience:

“I’m a living witness. Despite being their student ;they showed me pepper. Few hours after surgery I was wallowing in pain though still on oxygen. I couldn’t talk but I was demonstrating to one of the doctors around that I’m having pain. Do you know what one of the nurse said? Ha what pain are you having? Do you know you are a woman it’s better you bear the pain and keep quiet.

“I was still in the theater. When one of them sees that I could no longer bear the pain he now said: See if it’s what I’m suspecting. Let me give you 30 minutes. Then after 30 minute, he would think of what to do.

“After almost an hour, he came back and said: You see it’s not what I’m suspecting because if it was to be what he was suspecting (internal bleeding) I would have died within that 30 minutes.

“So he guessed I was fine that I was just being naive.

“Lo and behold after several injections the pain did not stop. I was in pain for days.

“On the third day of the surgery that I tried to defecate. Everything that was coming out of my anus was big clotted blood which denotes internal bleeding.

“The consultant came and asked me to go for a scan. The report showed massive hematoma. So he asked one of the doctors to try and drain the blood . After the consultant left, the doctor told me that I was fine and there’s no blood to drain that I’m only having a psychological pain.

“They later requested for a C.T scan which I did. Yet till today, nothing was done to the clotted blood in my tummy. I had to go for evacuation at another federal hospital when I was having a persistent contraction even though I was not pregnant.

“The blood had spread everywhere in my tummy to my pelvic region. I had to stop going for the consultation so that I will not go and stab one of them someday. Till today, I’m still living with the swollen tummy. My tummy wasn’t swollen before the surgery. They gave me a deformed abdomen. Yet they don’t care. They are so cruel.”

That wasn’t the last one, there are several others and you can read all.

Even though we were searching for public comments on LUTH, FMC Ebute Metta came up in the comment section. Someone mentioned a misdiagnosis at the facility.

“My mother was wrongly diagnosed at Federal Medical Centre, Ebute Metta. Running unnecessary tests up and down before my brother asked me to take her to Ikeja Reddington hospital where she was diagnosed with peptic ulcer.”

There are also several stories online regarding FMC Ebute Metta and they are quite depressing.

Not all stories are bad

As depressing as the stories above and the experience of several others will seem to be, it is worthy to note that only a few cases go terribly wrong as millions of people that have used public hospitals in Nigeria had gotten better. Such individuals will not go online to share bad stories.

Furthermore, arguing back and forth over the quality of toilet services at public hospitals, even though desired, is not what is on the minds of patients visiting the hospitals.

So, instead of engaging in an unending altercation over the quality of public health facilities in Lagos and across Nigeria, the Nigerian government should read the various accounts of the citizens who felt cheated by the health system that failed them. There are thousands of people with grudges against the healthcare system even though the hospitals are not to blame in several of such incidents. But what will you expect people to hold on to as responsible for the death of their loved ones when emergency services were not promptly given, oxygen was not available and only 4 dialysis machines are been used for thousands of patients who need the service weekly?

These are the issues that SERAP did not fully address in its report; neither is it getting much attention from the federal government which seemed more fixated on PR instead of substantial service delivery at hospitals it is overseeing.

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