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Toll of Lagos Doctors’ Strike on the Rise

07 May 2012

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Inland Maternity Hospital

The strike embarked upon by doctors in the service of Lagos State government has no doubt, negatively impacted in the delivery of healthcare services in the state and has brought untold hardship on the people. Comfort Umoren writes

Sequel to the doctors’ strike in Lagos State, most of the general hospitals in the state are devoid of doctors even though there are many sick persons ranging from pregnant women to sick infants, accident victims and elderly patients to be attended to. The strike, which is as a result of the demand by Lagos doctors’ to the state government to increase their wages first started as a warning strike before they embarked on the strike proper.

Going round some state hospitals in the city of Lagos, THISDAY gathered that before the commencement of the strike, most of the patients admitted were discharged, some others referred to private hospitals or given a later date thereby, leaving the hospital almost empty. It was also found out that the doctors have not been coming to the hospitals to attend to their patients thereby leaving the patients in the care of the nurses and matrons. At the General Hospital in Ajeromi Ifelodun LGA, Orege, THISDAY met the hospital almost empty as most of the patients were discharged before the commencement of the strike. At the female ward of the hospital, there were only two patients left in the care of the nurse in-charge. In an interview with one of the patients in the ward who simply identified herself as Mrs. Ngozi, she decried the state of things in the hospital, stating that she was admitted about 2 weeks ago and had been there unattended to since the strike began.

“Doctors are very important in the society and we cannot do without them. The doctors are not here to look after me and the government of course cannot look after me. Let the government negotiate with the doctors so that they can come back to the hospital to take save lives. Who will attend to emergency cases as the doctors are on strike? Lives are being lost if nothing is done to salvage the situation. I am pleading with the Lagos State government sincerely, if not for anybody, at least for my precious life, for them to go into dialogue with the doctors so that they can come and attend to us so that we can go about our various businesses,” Ngozi pleaded holding her chest as if in pains.

At the balcony of the male ward were two men lying helplessly on separate benches with bandages on their legs. Approaching one of the patients, a man in his late 40’s or early 50’s who spoke with THISDAY under anonymity disclosed that only the nurses have been taking care of him.

“If our drugs are finished, the only thing the nurses can do for us is to replace our finished drugs with the same old drugs. If there were doctors, they would have prescribed another different drugs meaning one has moved to another stage of treatment and that is the only way one can get better. We are just here helplessly waiting for the doctors to resume because there is no improvement on our health conditions,” he narrated faintly.

He, therefore, pleaded with the Lagos State governor, Babatunde Raji Fashola, to look into the matter and save the common man who could not afford to go to a private hospital for treatment. He also added that what the politicians are getting is nothing compared to what the doctors are demanding for yet the doctors are doing more work than these politicians.

“When they are sick, they travel to India to get quality medical treatment and yet they cannot improve the quality of our medical services or even encourage our medical practitioners,” the second man added amidst choking.

At the General Hospital in Apapa, THISDAY met the hospital reception almost filled with expectant mothers and few men, who perhaps, accompanied their wives for routine check up. Efforts made to speak with patients in the ward (if any) proved abortive as the reporter was asked to go to the ministry of health to take permission.

Meanwhile, THISDAY gathered from one of the pregnant women, that they were not allowed to see the doctors except for the matrons and the nurses. She also complained of being sick and had to go to a private hospital to get medical treatment.

“I do not know for sure but I think if there is a serious case, the doctors can be called upon to attend to such emergencies. Whatever issues they are having let them resolve it amicably, human life should not be compared to money. I know the state governor is a good man but it is just some people around him that are hardening his heart. Let him not let this to spoil all his good work,” he said.

Also, the ever busy General Hospital, Ikorodu was deserted as a result of the on-going doctors’ strike. The reception, which is usually crowded with patients waiting to be attended to was deserted with few staff of the hospital chatting as there is little or nothing to do or patients to attend to. The pharmacists were sitting idly behind the counter, the lab was open with only the laboratory scientist and lab technicians in it, the entire hospital premises was quiet and devoid of the usual high number of patients especially at the reception.

In a chat with one of the staff at the Ijede General Hospital along Oba Aliu Akilo Street, who spoke under anonymity, he revealed that since the commencement of the strike, only few patients still come to the hospital as most of them already knew that they would not be attended to. The hospital too looks deserted as there were no patients at the reception.

However, THISDAY found out that one thing common to all the general hospitals visited was that most of the patients that were admitted before the strike were discharged and asked to come at a later date or advised to visit other private hospitals. Apart from ante-natal check-ups, some of the nurses/matrons are allowed to take deliveries that do not have complications.

Tags: Life and Style, Life, Featured, Strike

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