A new report by the Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP) has revealed what it claims to be a“humanitarian crisis, manifestations of corruption and mismanagement at the Lagos University Teaching Hospital, (LUTH) Idi Araba.
It laments that unhygienic conditions, severe shortages of medicines and medical supplies in the hospital and two other Federal Government owned hospitals in Lagos make it extremely difficult for many Nigerians to obtain essential medical care.”
Apart from LUTH, the other two hospitals covered in the report are the National Orthopaedic Hospital, Igbobi (NOHIL), and the Federal Medical Centre, Ebute Meta (FMC).
The report says there is “a sharp deterioration in the quality and safety of care in the hospitals. LUTH, NOHIL and FMC do not have enough cancer treatment machines. Linear accelerator (LINAC), magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) and CT scan machines are not working optimally due to erratic electricity even as the hospitals do not have back-up plans.”
According to the report, “A LINAC costs about US$5 million and the six that the Federal Government procured for six teaching hospitals have packed up. The dialysis machine at LUTH is outdated and its functionality at the time of study was zilch. LUTH recently lost its accreditation to teach dentistry because all its five dental chairs had packed up and there is no functional dental engine available.”
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The 53 pages report launched on Tuesday in Lagos is titled: Failing Healthcare: How Federal Hospitals are letting Down the Poor and Making Healthcare a Privilege rather than a Right. The report presented to the media by Professor Dejo Olowu, Dean, School of Law, American University of Nigeria discloses that “vital medical supplies such as oxygen, diagnostic machines, dental chairs, sterilising units, burns apparatuses, were in pronounced shortage. Overcrowded waiting rooms and wards were noticeable.”
The report was part of the highlights of the public hearing held by SERAP to provide forum for people to provide testimonies and submit complaints/petitions on allegations of corruption they encounter while accessing public services particularly in the health, education and water sectors.
The research for the report was conducted between April and June 2018 using semi-structured in-depth interviews as the primary instrument for data collection.
The public hearing was attended by among others the representatives of the Acting Chairman of the Independent Corrupt Practices And Other Related Offences Commission (ICPC), Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), the Special Adviser to President Muhammadu Buhari on corruption, civil society, lawyers, the media, Freedom of Information Unit of the Federal Ministry of Justice, Nigeria Union of Petroleum and Natural Gas Workers (NUPENG) and the public in general.
The report read in part: “Our researchers observed that some wards have no mosquito nets. And there is no waiting area for mothers with sick babies There is the Gynaecology ward, at which entrance a small bench that could seat about four persons, was placed. The bench was occupied by patients’ relatives, presumably. At the end of the corridor where the neonatal ward is, there is a similar four-seater bench, fully occupied. The bench, having been occupied, a group of people were standing. At the neonatal ward, it was the same case. A waiting room for mothers whose babies are on admission was not part of the hospital’s plan. The mothers have improvised.”
It stated that, “At all the three study sites, derelict and obsolete equipment were commonplace. Most wheelchairs in LUTH are stiff and old. They are not in optimal condition. There is a poor maintenance culture. Not even the lifts are working well. One can easily get stuck in an elevator; so it is better to use the staircases.
“LUTH has its own laboratories but the doctors there prefer to refer patients to the private laboratory because private lab are considered to be more efficient and delivered results quicker.”
….“Nurses are forced to pick and choose patients to attend to. The ideal World Health Organisation (WHO) standard is five nurses to one patient. In LUTH it’s two nurses to 30 patients. In each ward, there are about 30 patients, and there are only about four nurses for each shift. In the afternoon, there’ll be two nurses, and in the night, there’ll be two nurses.”
On NOHIL, the report stated: “At Igbobi, no money, no treatment. Admission at Igbobi’s casualty ward is N5,000 per day. After the preliminary examination, tests and eventual diagnosis, patients must pay before they could be admitted into the appropriate ward for their conditions.”
“Patients get their syringes and needles, gloves, without it the doctor will not touch the patient. If they ask you for it and you don’t have it, they just walk away, they don’t have time. Privatization of laboratories is another ill that the National Orthopaedic Hospital, Igbobi, has in common with LUTH.”
According to SERAP, “This study sought to analyse evidence-based information on the causes of the failure in healthcare service delivery in Nigeria, using three of the frontline institutions of public healthcare delivery, namely, LUTH, NOHIL and FMC, all located in Lagos State, the most populous state in Nigeria and its commercial nucleus. The study solely focuses on healthcare service delivery systems at LUTH, NOHIL and FMC as representative of the experiences in their counterparts across the country”.
The group noted that there is a need to “Increase the transparency in the execution of the budget planning process by publishing income and expenditure reports, ensuring the release of assigned budgets to the health sector and projects implemented. Information on funded projects, on renovation and reconstruction will be vital to regaining the confidence of health workers and the public.”
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