By EBUN SESSOU
If there is anything to remember in the on-going indefinite industrial action embarked upon by the Lagos State doctors, then, it is the untold hardship that it has brought to the lives of many Lagosians especially those who have been denied entrance into the hospital premises.
Right now, Lagosians are faced with series of pain and agony as a result of the on-going strike action. Some families are now losing their loved ones while others are now seeking solace in either federal, private hospitals or traditional clinics including Traditional Birth Attendants, TBA and Faith Based Clinics (church clinics).
One of these unfortunate families is the Akowonjos who were denied entrance into one of the Lagos State hospitals.
In pain, Segun, not real name was rushed to the hospital on Thursday morning. He was said to have been going through chronic headache a night before he was rushed to the hospital in the early hours of Thursday.
And because, there was no doctor on ground to attend to any patient, he was advised to go to other hospitals that are on duty. But, it was unfortunate that the Akowonjos could not save Segun from untimely death.
In the same view, many people have been facing the same agony as a result of the doctor’s strike action. At Island Maternity, a pregnant woman, Mrs. Yetunde Disu who came on admission was rejected due to the on-going strike.
Although, she has been attending her ante-natal clinic in the hospital, she was rejected at the entrance of the hospital based on rules that cannot be violated even at the expense of saving a life.
And because her condition was critical, she was rushed to LUTH on emergency and there, she was saved. As if it wasn’t enough, an old man who had a car accident lamented the ordeal he passed through when he came to the Lagos State University Teaching Hospital, LASUTH on the second day of the strike action. And all the way from Okomaiko area of Lagos, he was rejected at the entrance of the hospital, despite his critical condition. He was told to look elsewhere for help.
However, those who wouldn’t let their families to die now prefer to patronise other hospitals in the city. Meanwhile, investigation has also shown that the in-flocks of pregnant women at the Traditional Birth Attendants, TBAs are enough to tell the scenario of the after-effect of the three days industrial action.
Compliance with the strike was total as several hospitals in Lagos were devoid of the usual beehive of activities as the doctors stayed away from their duty posts, forcing hordes of patients, several of whom turned up as early as 5am to seek treatment elsewhere.
A check by Saturday Vanguard revealed that in all the affected health institutions, most of the outpatient clinics were shut, and available services were very scanty with no apparent back up. At the Randle General Hospital Lagos, the General Hospitals in Surulere, Gbagada and Orile Agege, and the Lagos State University Teaching Hospital, LASUTH, Ikeja, only nurses, paramedical staff and laboratory technicians were seen attending to patients.
At LASUTH, someone who proffered anonymity told Saturday Vanguard that patients who are not on admission were instructed to go to LUTH.
However, it was also revealed that some relations of patients who were on admission in the hospital voluntarily requested for the release of their patients for them to be able to access proper medical attention.
While some people were patronising private hospitals, others concentrated on alternative medicine. But, the unfortunate aspect of the strike action is the increase in number of causalities. And this is as a result of the patients’ inability to access medical hospital institutions on time, preferably, any state hospital that is close to them.
A picture of that came when a 15-year old boy gave up the ghost while trying to save his life. At exactly 7 am, he was taken to one of the General Hospitals in Ibeju-Lekki but he was denied access to the hospital.
And at the gate, he was referred to one private hospital in the same area. Unfortunately, the doctors were not qualified to treat his case accordingly. So, he was referred to LUTH and just a few minutes to his promised land, he gave up the ghost.
When Saturday Vanguard visited LUTH, it was revealed that the in-flock of patients who came on emergency condition has doubled.
In their despaired mood, they occupied LUTH premises as if they were embarking on a journey. From the accident and emergency centre, Linear Accelerated centres, Labour wards and X-Ray centres, patients as well as their relatives who came to seek for medical attention flooded the whole place.
Investigation also reveals that some Lagosians were completely unaware of the latest development. Some of them who lamented the nonchalant attitude of both the Lagos State Government and the medical doctors, said, it was the responsibility of both parties to ensure adequate health care.
Mrs Florence Enoch, said she had left home earlier to see a doctor she had an appointment with at Akodo General Hospital and was disappointed at the development.
“I am sad that doctors are on strike again. What is the government doing to avert these recurrent strikes? I do hope this is resolved on time so that normal activities go on at the hospitals because without the doctors, the hospitals are incomplete,” she said.
Another patient, Mrs Joke Adams, exprssed hope that the strike would not take a long time to be resolved so that people would have access to medical facilities across the state.
According to her, accessing a private hospital is totally unaffordable, adding that the level of poverty in the country will not give room for equal right of the citizenry. “I cannot afford the cost of treatment at private hospitals that is why I use the general hospitals. This strike will make a lot of people suffer in terms of finance. I appeal to the government to dialogue with the doctors so that the strike does not become indefinite,“ she said.
At the outpatient department as well as medical and surgical emergency wards, skeletal services were available, but priority was being given to critical cases. Only a handful of patients were encountered waiting for service. One of them, who spoke to Vanguard, said he was only able to obtain a card because he was familiar with one of the staff one the duty.
Another patient encountered who identified himself as madam Victoria Gabriel Duro, recounted how she brought her father from Otto area of Lagos to LASUTH. “I feel so bad to have come from a riverine area only to be told that doctors are on strike. I also feel bad spending money bringing my father yet no doctor to attend to us. It is very painful, she lamented.
In Ebute-Metta, the presence of a traditional birth attendants in the area gave a relief to some of the pregnant women who have been denied entry into the state owned hospitals. A visit to one of them Borno Way, reveals more patronage was recorded as well as activities of the healthcare givers was also multiplied. The centre now recorded over thirty pregnant women who were ready for delivery.
In an interview with the Public Relation Officers of LUTH, Idi Araba, Mrs. Hope Nwawolo on the present situation in LUTH, she noted that activities are on top gear to accommodate as many patients that come to the hospital for treatment.
“As expected, LUTH is always flooded with patients. Although, lots of people access medical treatment in LUTH but with the strike action, the situation is multiplied. And since the commencement of the strike, the wards has been occupied with patients particularly, the accident and emergency centre. There are so many people flooding the premises, even the number of cars is enough to ascertain the fact. Explaining the capacity level of the hospital, she said, although there can’t be enough space for patients but the hospital is on its oasis to attending to medical issues.
“We still have our patients who have been before the strike action kicked off and we cannot drive them out to take new patients. But, management have set up machineries for the doctors to be able to attend to as many patients as they can. The doctors understand the situation and because of the patients, everybody has been on their toes.
“Doctors are also on ground to see the patients in their cars to ascertain the seriousness of the illness and patients with minor problems are treated and send back home. But, those with complications are admitted.
Asked if doctors spend more time in the hospital, she said, “doctors on ground spend quality time with their patients. Adding that right now, they are seriously engage in order to prevent causalities of any kind. But, there is provision for patients who are supposed to be admitted, she said. .
Mrs Nwawolo who condemns strike action in the health institutions said, “there are lots of people who have health challenges and therefore it might be suicidal for strike action to take place.
“One thing, the management of LUTH has always done is to take the way of dialogue with his staff adding that patient’s care should be the paramount thing for health institution.
“ At times, there is need to put the human angle to everything we do and so, we should always consider that our relatives might also be involved in one or two issues pertaining to health which requires medical attention.
“As medical experts, we should not close our eyes against patients in trouble at anytime. Strike in the health care sector is not something we should encourage. It is not what anybody should look forwards to. Because lots of people suffer for it so, it is better to put an end to strike action and I think, it is possible depending on the hospital,” she concluded.