By Tony Okafor, John Charles
Just like teaching hospitals, state hospitals across the country are fast collapsing following the neglect of the health facilities by the state governors, new investigations have revealed.
Findings by our correspondents across the country showed that buildings in many of the hospitals were in a state of disrepair while the health institutions lacked equipment as well as basic consumables needed to treat patients.
Investigations also revealed that the conditions of some of the hospitals were worsened by unhealthy and dirty environment.
General hospitals in Ogun, Anambra, Edo, Enugu, Ekiti, Gombe, Cross River, Benue, Osun and other states visited by our correspondents were in short supply of hand gloves, face masks, drip stands, wheelchairs and stationery for recording patients’ complaints. Investigations also revealed that scanners, endoscopy machines and functional mortuaries were non-existent in many of the hospitals.
It was also revealed that most of the state hospitals lacked emergency equipment, ambulance or vehicles, while operating theatres were ill-equipped. The state hospitals, it was discovered, also faced the problems of power and water supply, while patients were left with no option but to sleep on bare floor due to inadequate bed space.
Calabar: Health personnel attend to patients on the corridor
For instance, when one of our correspondents visited the General Hospital in Calabar, the Cross River State capital, on Friday, he sighted some patients, who were being attended to in the corridor close to the out-patient department.
The correspondent also observed that the buildings were decrepit and needed an urgent makeover.
A patient, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said drugs were not available in the hospital, adding that the sick people were asked to buy prescribed drugs.
The Chairman of the Nigerian Medical Association in Cross River State, Dr Agam Ayuk, in an interview with The PUNCH, said, “There is no emergency equipment. Some hospitals don’t have ambulance or vehicles. Theatres are not well-equipped. Power supply and water supply are problems.”
When contacted, the Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Health, Dr Bassey Joseph, admitted that there were problems in the hospital but added that the government was addressing them.
On lack of drugs, he said, “It should not be an issue because there is a drug committee. Patients pay for drugs. They don’t get it free.
“It is wrong to prescribe drugs for patients to go and buy outside the hospital. Each hospital is expected to run a revolving scheme whereby they get 10 per cent profit which could be ploughed back.”
Drips hung on windows at Makurdi general hospital
Also, at the General Hospital, Makurdi, Benue State, a nurse said there was only one ramshackle table inside the theatre, stressing that the facility lacked necessary equipment.
Another nurse at the male ward of the hospital located at the North Bank, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said there was shortage of notebooks to keep patients’ medical records.
She stated, “Look at the receiver (notebook) covers, they are stained. There are no gloves. Patients are the ones buying them.
“The drip stands are not enough. Look at that patient there, (the patient hung his drip bag on the window). This is because of dearth of drip stands. Our cupboard is already scattered. Notebooks are not available. We only make use of ordinary sheets of paper.”
The Chief Medical Officer of the hospital, Dr Felix Atsen, said the hospital lacked critical equipment.
He stated, “The equipment is not enough. In the operation theatre, we have only one table. It has been there for years. The structures in the hospital are choked up because we are constrained by space.”
But the Benue State Commissioner for Health, Dr Eru Emmanuel, expressed optimism that the government would pay more attention to the general hospitals.
He stated, “In the area of medical equipment, we are waiting for the renovation of our hospitals. You know many of the state general hospitals need renovation because in some areas the roofs are leaking.
“We are aware of all the problems in the hospitals but we have all the equipment in the store. We are only waiting for the renovation of the structure and the theatres.”
Patients lie on the floor due to lack of space – CMD, Central Hospital, Benin
In Edo State, one of our correspondents noticed that the roof of the male ward of the state government-owned Central Hospital, which was blown off by windstorm some years ago, had not been repaired.
The Chief Medical Director of the Hospital, Dr Philip Ugbodaga, explained that patients in the male ward were moved to the female ward after the roof collapsed.
He stated, “But presently, the place is no longer spacious enough due to the influx of patients. That is why you could see some patients on the floor.
“The government promised to construct a new building to replace the collapsed male medical ward, but we are still waiting for them.”
It was learnt that the patients made provision for light whenever there was power outage.
Reacting to this, Ugbodaga sad, “The truth is that, we can’t afford to run on generators on our meagre subvention every time there is power outage. We have so much to do with the little we are given. But one thing is sure; we give priority to the theatre.”
When contacted, the state Commissioner for Health, Dr David Osifo, said the government would soon begin massive renovation of the hospital, including the male medical ward.
Only one fridge working in Gombe Specialist Hospital’s mortuary
At the Gombe State Specialist Hospital, Gombe, the Head of Nursing Services, Mr Napoleon Kwati, described the hospital’s environment as enabling, but said the health facility lacked some basic equipment.
“There are essential things that we still lack. They include clinical thermometers, wheelchairs and regular water supply,” he said.
According to him, only one of the fridges in the mortuary is working.
On his part, the Medical Director, Dr Shuaibu Ishaq, said, “We need scanners, Magnetic Resonance Imaging and endoscopy machines.”
He also said the mortuary should be upgraded, adding that the accident and emergency unit should be expanded.
The secretary of the state chapter of the NMA, Dr Bose Abdullahi, who commended the medical director, said the hospital had less than five wheelchairs.
“The hospital has less than five functional wheelchairs. We need modern anaesthetic machines. Doctors are ready to work but sometimes we are handicapped. We need essentials like face masks and gloves.”
But the state Commissioner for Health, Dr Kennedy Ishaya, blamed insecurity for the inadequate funding of the health sector, saying “government is spending money to maintain the internally displaced persons.”
Patients buy diesel for Osun general hospital
At the Osun State General Hospital, Asubiaro, Osogbo, parts of the premises were overgrown with weeds.
One of our correspondents, who visited the hospital, observed that a building, where the blood bank of the hospital was located, had some of its roofing sheets blown off.
A patient, Gbadamosi Lateef, said a resident of Osogbo was asked to buy 40 litres of diesel to power the generator before a surgery was carried out on her.
Lateef said, “It is like a normal practice here now that whenever a surgery is to be carried out, the patient must buy diesel for the generator to power the theatre where the surgery will take place.”
Reliable sources, who spoke to one of our correspondents on condition of anonymity, explained that the mortuary of the hospital had been offering skeletal services because there was no money to buy chemicals.
Also, the Chairman of the Medical and Health Workers Union in the state, Mr Wemimo Olowookere, in an interview with The PUNCH, said the X-ray department at the General Hospital, Ilesa was not functioning because there was no radiographer.
When contacted, the Supervisor, Ministry of Health in Osun State, Dr Rafiu Isamotu, said the state was not unaware of the challenges facing the hospitals.
Isamotu added, “That must be an arrangement between the hospital and the patient. Be that as it may, we plan to have solar energy in our hospitals now. So the idea of people buying diesel will no longer occur.”
Facilities in the Ogun State Government-owned hospital are also deplorable. In most of the hospitals, patients said prescribed drugs were not available.
When one of our correspondents visited the General Hospital, Ifo, on Friday, the toilets were dirty and patients resorted to the use of potties.
The situation was the same at the General Hospital, Ilaro, where a worker told one of our correspondents that the emergency unit was not well equipped.
“Some of the toilets are dilapidated. The hospital should be renovated. The government should purchase medical instrument to equip the facility,” the worker stated.
But when contacted, the state Commissioner for Health, Dr Babatunde Ipaye, disagreed with the patients who said that drugs were not available at the general hospitals in the state.
He stated, “You cannot go to any general hospital and not find drugs. If you talk of drug supply, I met a revolving account of about N27m. We have drugs worth more than N400m. They have drugs as and when due, so, nobody in Ogun State will say there are no drugs in our general hospitals.”
The commissioner, however, said many people did not have confidence in the general hospitals in the state because of poor funding.
He said, “I wish I had more funds. Funding is an issue. We have not met the World Health Organisation’s recommendation for funding in the health sector as a country.”
On dirty toilets in the hospitals, Ipaye said, “I cannot go and do the cleaning for them, we have a team responsible for that.”
Snakes scare patients, workers at Anambra hospital
Investigations at the Anambra State General Hospital located at Umueri in the Anambra East Local Government Area showed that the facility had been neglected.
When one of our correspondents visited the hospital, it was learnt that that some of the equipment installed after its renovation in 2007 had been vandalised, while some had become obsolete.
A security officer attached to the hospital, Mr Emmanuel Agbata, lamented that workers posted to the hospital hardly come to work for fear of attack by snakes.
He said, “We are risking our lives in this hospital. Look at the type of bush in a general hospital owned by government; the type of snakes and other reptiles around here often chase people away and sometimes these wild animals attack people inside the hospital.”
He said an X-ray machine that was purchased for the hospital four years ago had not been installed to serve the people.
Reacting, the state Commissioner for Health, Dr Jeo Akabuike, said the government would soon upgrade and retool the hospital.
Equipment shortage in Ondo hospital
It was also gathered that hospitals owned by the Ondo State Government lacked the required equipment.
At the Mother and Child Hospital in Akure, it was learnt that the hospital had stopped the free medical care policy.
In his reaction, the Commissioner for Health in the state, Dr Wahab Adegbenro, admitted that the state health facilities were facing a series of challenges.
He, however, said the government had begun to address the challenges.
In Ekiti State, investigations showed that paucity of fund had made it impossible for most of the hospitals to run generators for more than three hours in the night.
But the state Commissioner for Health, Dr Moji Yaya-Kolade, expressed confidence that the government would address the situation after an assessment of the hospitals’ needs.
Also, in Oyo State, The PUNCH’s investigations showed that the condition of the state government’s hospitals was appalling.
In some hospitals visited, especially the one at Adeoyo, Ring Road, Ibadan, some of the equipment and facilities were either obsolete or not functional.
But the Chairman of the NMA in the state, Dr Akin Sodipo, said the state government had promised to address the problems of health workers and renovate the hospital.
General hospitals in Enugu State are dead – NMA
When one of our correspondents visited the Nsukka District Hospital, two patients in separate interviews decried the services that were provided by the health workers.
A patient, who did not want his name mentioned, said there were no toilet facilities.
He added, “When I defecate, my sister will go to the bush to throw the waste away.”
Another patient, Basil Esibe, said, “I have never seen power supply in the hospital either in the day or in the night for the past two weeks I have been admitted here. My wife only uses torchlight. There are no functional toilet facilities in the hospital. There is no water in the hospital. We buy water.”
Also at Oji-River General Hospital, a health worker, who said she was a nurse but did not want her name mentioned because she was not authorised to speak to the media, said the hospital lacked basic medical equipment.
She asked, “Does this environment even look like a hospital to you?”
On the condition of the theatre, she said, “It is nothing to write home about. We don’t have anything but we are managing.”
The nurse said the hospital depended on rains for water. According to her, during the dry season the nurses trek over three kilometres to fetch water.
She said there were no toilets for members of staff and patients, adding that workers and patients defecate in the bush.
Reacting to the development, the state Commissioner for Health, Dr Fintan Ekochin, said he had taken note of the problems.
He thanked the press for providing him with such information to work with.
When contacted, the state Chairman of the NMA, Dr Ike Okwesili, said the state had no general hospitals and that the state government had no interest in the improvement of the state health sector.
Okwesili said, “General hospitals in Enugu State are dead. There is nothing like general hospitals in Enugu State. So, we should not talk further on that.”
This story first appeared in Punch Newspapers.