Minister of Health, Dr. Osagie Ehanire and his Federal Capital Territory, Mohammed Bello as well as the Minister of State for Health, Dr. Olorunimbe Mamora have established new measures to address issues of very sick persons being denied medical attention, rejected and abandoned by hospitals under the control of both Federal Ministry of Health and Federal Capital Territory Administration in Abuja catchment areas.
- R-L : Ehanire, Mamora*
Olujimi Oyetomi, Director, Information, Media & Press Relations, Federal Ministry of Health stated this in a statement on Thursday.
The statement read in part : Efforts to control COVID- 19 was being carried out by most healthcare workers in and around the FCT such that it is getting challenging for patients with other diseases to be attended to, the way they ought to be. For this, the Honourable Ministers charged that controlling COVID-19 “must not be at the expense of allowing other diseases that are equally life threatening to begin to thrive and increase mortality. It would be a serious setback, if medical services, especially emergency medical service, begin to deteriorate in the wake of fighting COVID-19”, the Honourable Ministers said.
The Honourable Minister of Health, Dr. Osagie Ehanire said his office has been inundated by “The frequency of reports of very sick persons being rejected and abandoned by our hospitals, many have died having been denied attention in hospitals, or told there is no bed, often after they have made marathon journeys from one hospital to the other in search of help”, stating that this is not acceptable.
Continuing, Dr. Ehanire expressed lamentation that “We cannot afford to continue to lose so many of our people, who have in fact found their way to a hospital, only to lose their lives to health conditions, some of which could have been cured. We know that not all emergencies are COVID and we know that our professional oaths oblige us to save lives and do something for those who come to us for help.”
Under the treatment regime that the Honourable Ministers want changed, 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 3-6 days to be released.
The Health Minister lamented that “The healthcare sector cannot afford negative impact on our sector and must be mindful of the collateral damage that can befall us, wipe out disease control gains we have made in past decades and threaten our not so strong health system.”
He continued: “We are beginning to see that fear of, or focus on corona virus is making some health institutions lose sight of other health hazards in our communities. Immunization rates, skilled birth attendance, RMNCH+N have declined. We must therefore take steps to ensure that we sustain routine health services to our people.”
For the regrettable situation, the Honourable Minister of Health therefore belled the cat on behalf of his colleague Ministers of FCT, and the Honourable Minister of State for Health to proclaim a new measure that all major public hospitals in the FCT catchment area, whether managed by Federal Ministry of Health or FCT administration are to be COVID-19 sample collection sites, to facilitate fast sample collection, reduce turn-around time for test results and bring more efficiency to the response strategy.
This marching order was given to a gathering of Medical Directors of Teaching Hospitals, Federal Medical Centres, General Hospitals including that of the National Hospital, Thursday, 2nd July, 2020 at a meeting held at the FCDA Conference Hall, Area 11, Abuja.
Dr. Ehanire said, to be able to properly implement the new directive, he has sought to have a side Lab for GeneXpert COVID-19 diagnostic machines, which deliver results within one hour, to be deployed and activated at the National Hospital Abuja and the University of Abuja Teaching Hospital, to cut down waiting time.
The Honourable Minister of Health followed with a second measure: That, basic diagnostic side labs should also be set up at the Emergency centres of major hospitals.
“We ask all so designated hospitals to make the space available and select the health workers to undergo special training for this purpose, so that all are prepared and equipped to protect themselves, but also scale up testing. Logistics to supply sample kits and go around to gather specimens, will be worked out with NCDC.”
He continued: “The Hon. Minister of FCT and I shall monitor and ensure that all steps are taken to minimize the suffering of persons trying to find access to treatment and to reduce the sad testimonies that hurt the reputation of our health system. We shall also ensure PPEs and commodities are made available.”
Dr. Ehanire finally told the gathering of the Medical Directors that they shall be held each personally accountable for the outcomes emanating from their 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, in the spirit in which the Honourable Minister of FCT and I have spoken.”