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Lagos says enough is enough for road accidents

… commissions Accident and Emergency Centre at old Toll Gate

By  Chioma Obinna
Janet Egwuonwu sat by the road side looking sad and dejected. Her eyes were swollen and her mien was pensive.  There was every indication that she had been crying since only God Knows when.

A passer by approached her and asked: “Madam, what is wrong with you”?

“The only thing that can pacify me is to bring my son back to life,” she said with tears rolling down her cheeks.  The lady who later  identified herself as Janet was yet to come to terms with the sudden death of  her son.

Lagos State Governor, Mr. Babatunde Fashola SAN (right) at the bedside of an accident victim at the just commissioned Lagos State Accident and Emergency Centre, Lagos-Ibadan Expressway last week. With him is the Commissioner for Health, Dr. Jide Idris.

She further narrated that her son was  among the  victims of a ghastly accident which occurred along the Apapa – Oshodi expressway in Lagos , involving two trailers  previous night. Eye witnesses said  most of the victims would have survived but many  died due to lack of emergency response.  However, the road mishap was one out of the 400 deaths that occur in Nigeria monthly.

Various tiers of  government across the nation have expressed concern about the trend. But in Lagos, the  authorities have gone beyond condemning the trend ; the state government has  gone ahead to take practical efforts aimed at  saving  lives of road accident victims.

Already, the  State Government  is taking the lead in providing emergency care for accident and trauma victims  with the commissioning of its state-of-the-art  Accident and Emergency Centre strategically located along  the Apapa – Oshodi Express way.

According to the Lagos State Sector Commander of  the Federal Road Safety Corps (FRSC), Mr. Julius Agwu, the centre has provided the missing link in carrying out the organisation’s  mandate of reducing the  number of deaths arising  from road accident to the barest minimum.

Agwu said “Such a centre if readily available before now, would have assisted the victims of  600 accidents recorded on Lagos roads in 2009 with 16 deaths and 600 road accidents and 50 deaths also recorded in 2008.

Observers of the road transport sector   believe the commissioning of the Accident and Emergency centre in Lagos state is desirable as the advent of commercial motorcyclists popularly called okada has led to a  meteoric rise in road accidents  within the state.  This may also be connected with the report of the World Health Organisation that more than 3000 people die on the world’s roads every day while tens of millions of people are injured or disabled every year.

Experts have also said that one of the reasons why the state government decided to establish such a centre was due to the unacceptably high number of injuries and  deaths arising from road mishaps.

Today, the gains of the centre are already glaring as a total of 154 victims have been attended to at the centre since April 1st, 2010.

Addressing the overwhelming crowd at the 20 -bed capacity specialist hospital, the State Governor, Babatunde Fashola urged  his brother governors particularly of neighbouring states to emulate the initiativein order to reduce the rate of mortality resulting from road accidents.

According to him, accident and emergency centre must be a regular feature on every highway in every part of the country.

The Governor who acknowledged that a lot of efforts are being made at various levels of government; federal, state and local government to improve safety on roads, prevent accidents and increase the awareness of road users on road safety noted that all these preventive measures on their own cannot solve the problem hence the building of such accident and emergency centers.

Recalling how the centre was concieved, he narrated how  he was a witness to an accident that occurred along  the Lagos-Ibadan expressway and the ambulances available at the scene of the accident were not enough to take all the victims, hence his convoy had to convey some of the victims.

Also speaking, the State Commissioner for Health, Dr Jide Idris, explained that in the first month of operations, the centre saw 94 patients, with 70 per cent of the victims in the age groups of 20 and 45 years; 74 per cent  were from either motor or motorcycle accidents.

Idris said “We have also trained our medical staff on emergency services, basic life support, and cardiac life support among others. We  are now involving  members of different agencies of government and local government areas to teach them on basic life support”.

The centre has been strategically and properly located on the expressway that has been identified as prone to cases of accidents. It will reduce the pressure on our regular hospitals as it will ensure that adequate basic medicare is provided for accident victims before being transferred to a hospital.

In a chat with Good Health Weekly, the Lagos State Sector Commander, Federal Road Safety Corps, (FRSC), Mr Julius Agwu said, the centre will reduce the number of death with some margins. “ I am one of the most excited persons because the missing link in our  mandate  to bring down the number of deaths from road accidents to the barest minimal is the absent of a well- equipped centre like this.  On daily basis,  we battle with number of injuries sustained, number of deaths, this location becomes handy because it will save lives, time and money. This is because we don’t have to drive a long  distance, spending time and money before we could get a hospital”

It would improve our response time and above all, provide 24 hours service. This centre will help us further in reducing the number of accident victims we will record this year in Lagos State.

Also, speaking to Good Health Weekly, Project Manager of Deux project, which has been providing facility management services for the Lagos State University Teaching Hospital in the past six years, Dr. Jonathan Odia who noted the essence of time on emergency care said the facility has a double barrel  advantages as it would solve the problems of  time and resuscitation as well as provide advance care to victims.

Quoting statistics from a Nigerian  study, he said one out of five victims of road accident die before they are taken to any centre and having a centre like this would reduce deaths with almost 25 per cent.

Head of  Biomedicals, Mr. Rashid Ali hinted that  the centre has, a resuscitation room, 20 male and female observation room with 10 patient trolleys, Ambulance bay, well equipped laboratory unit with automated haematology analyser, microscope, blood banking and centrifuge,  an operating theatre suit incase of internal bleeding. The victims are also moved within 48 hours to regular hospitals if need be.

The Managing Director of the Centre, a Consultant Orthopaedic & Truama Surgeon, Dr.   Olawale Adegbite who noted that worldwide trauma has been the leading cause of death, adding that centre goes to show that the state Government is aware of unnecessary deaths due to road accidents.  Adegbite said since April 1st, about 154 patients have been treated of which 107 were males and the rest females.


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