By SOLA OGUNDIPE
To operate at optimal capacity in the face of critical shortage in public electrical power supply, the Lagos University Teaching Hospital, LUTH, utilises up to 5,000 litres of diesel daily to run its range of 10 installed generators.
Chief Medical Director of the tertiary health institution, Professor Akin Oshibogun, who disclosed this weekend during an oversight visit of the Senate Committee on Health to LUTH, said apart from funding, electricity was one of the greatest challenges confronting the hospital.
“If you asked me 20 times the greatest challenge of LUTH, I will tell you it is electricity. Electricity is a challenge because we are now running our own power generating plant. The implication of this is that many of the services rendered depend on electricity, and though government has supported us to procure generators, there is a cost to running the generators.
“On full load, we utilise up to 5,000 litres of diesel a day, however, we try as much as possible to shed load, but even with the load shedding, we still use at least 2000-3000 liters of diesel a day because of the critical areas we must power,” Oshibogun observed.
He told members of the committee that at least 5 Megawatts of power is required to run the hospital, but lamented that the main power house which is over 30 years old had lost efficiency and could no longer power the entire hospital.
“Major equipment such as CT scanner and MRI are not run on public power supply. Our linear accelerator which has been running for 5-6 years has not run on public power for one minute since it started. We have been running two sets of generators to power it, one in the morning and the other in the evening.”
He said because of its sensitive nature, the linear accelerator runs continuously on generator at great economic cost.
“We cannot shut it down and even when there is public power supply, we insist it must be on generator because the fluctuations of public power supply can damage it and it will be very expensive to repair.
“If it shuts down accidentally, there is no one who can restart it in Nigeria; we need to bring in people from abroad to restart it.”
He argued that if the power issue was addressed, the volume of finances on diesel and maintaining the generators would be reduced.
Responding, Chairman of the Committee, Senator Ifeanyi Okowa, said he was optimistic LUTH as well as other Teaching Hospitals and Federal Medical Centres would benefit from the National Independent Power Projects, NIPP, coming on board by the end of the year and in 2014.
“At that time when we are able to generate 7,500 MW, which even though is still a far cry from what we need, there will be remarkable improvement,” he remarked.