Seeing Patients Die Due To Lack Of Equipment Traumatizes Us, Kaduna Resident Doctors Cry Out
By Our Correspondent
The Association of Resident Doctors (ARD), Kaduna State chapter has expressed dismay at what it described as a sorry state of health sector in the state, which leaves them traumatised each time a patient dies in their hands.
The association expressed this at a media briefing held at its office on Tuesday.
“We are gathered once again to intimate the government and the general public about some of the reasons for the current strike action by medical doctors in the employ of Kaduna State Government. A combination of appropriate health infrastructure, and a motivated, qualified and up to date health care personnel is required for an efficient and responsive health care delivery system.
“It is important that the public becomes aware of the status of its public health system. We as the officers on ground have been at the receiving end of the psychological trauma of seeing patients die not because we don’t know what to do to save them, but we lack the necessary tools, motivation and man power to do so,” ARD said.
The group called on all relevant stakeholders to join them in their noble struggle to better the health sector in the state, as a matter of urgency and emergency.
“It is pertinent to stress that this strike action is about the sorry state of the healthcare delivery system in Kaduna State.
It is unfortunate that Kaduna State, which proudly refers itself as the capital of Northern Nigeria is losing its finest and best medical doctors and other healthcare workers alike to our neighboring states due to poor healthcare infrastructure needed for optimal health service delivery to the people as well as inappropriate remuneration for its healthcare personnel.
“The status of the health infrastructure is embarrassing to say the least. None of the state owned hospitals can boast of an Intensive Care Unit. None of the General Hospitals can boast of functional Accident and Emergency Unit.
“This has led to an inexcusable and avoidable increase in mortality from cases requiring lifesaving emergency care. Most of the General Hospitals don’t have a functional blood bank. The access to basic lifesaving oxygen is unavailable in most
hospitals, some without a single oxygen cylinder. This is a state that should boast of a internal widely spread oxygen production capacity that should supply both public and private health institutions,” the group pointed out.
They explained that if properly equipped, hospitals can serve as a source of revenue for the state government as well.
“Electricity supply to many of the General Hospitals is abysmal to say the least. Some have not had electricity from the national grid for more than six months. Simple lifesaving emergency radiological services such as X-ray are not available during call hours.
“This has forced many hospitals to rely on services from private diagnostic centers due to long waiting times and at a higher cost to patients.
“Hajiya Gambo Sawaba General Hospital, which provides secondary health services to the entire population of Zaria local government has less than ten doctors. Due to lack of nursing staff, three of the hospitals’ wards are presently on lockdown.
“There is also no nurse in the pediatric wards in afternoon shift. The main theater of the hospital under lock and key for the past three years due to dilapidation. In the minor theater, water is ferried in kegs. The wards are leaking.
“No water in the toilets of the wards. The laboratories are heavily understated which has led prolonged processing times for sample with delay in getting results from emergency investigations,” ARD lamented.
The group said that the case is even worse at the rural Hospital Maigana, the only secondary health facility in Soba Local Government.
“This hospital has only two doctors and five nurses. The population of Soba Local Government is about two hundred and ninety thousand. This puts the
doctor to patient ratio at 1:140,000. The main building of the hospital has been under lock and key for almost a year due to renovation. The Hospital is currently operating out of a three-bedroom flat within the staff quarters. This has forced the hospital to operate as a clinic with no admissions.
“For the past six months, there has been no power supply from the national grid.
“The story is also the same in Kachia Local Government Area, with a population of almost two hundred and forty thousand and only three doctors and fourteen nurses in its General Hospital.
“The building is dilapidated and there has been no access to electricity from the national grid in the last eight months. There are no functional toilet facilities as most patients result to open defecation with attendant health risks.
“The Infectious Disease Control Center in Kakuri, which is tasked with the responsibility of handling cases such as Lassa Fever is in a dangerous state with terrible potential consequences to the safety of the entire population of the residents of Kaduna State and the country at large.
“The center has only two doctor, none of whom are consultants in either microbiology of infectious disease. The Facility has no connection to the national grid and its only generator is broken. No allowances have been paid for the staff and no regular training is organized for them.
“The center has been out of water supply for the past six months. There is no office equipment as the center doesn’t have a single computer or printer. They have not received any funds from government to run the center for almost two years. No basic drugs as even the intravenous fluids are expired. There is no insurance cover for any of the staff.
“The center has a broken air filter for the past six months and thus has no capacity to contain pathogens that are spread by air. The facility doesn’t have a sealed incinerator, which is required for proper waste disposal of biohazardous waste,” ARD added.
They continued by pointing out that the hospital doesn’t have regular supply of personal protective equipment, which has placed the personnel at serious risk of harm and death.
“Last year, a staff of the hospital was infected with Lassa fever from a patient and had to be quarantined at home due to lack of an ambulance to convey her.
“The hospital doesn’t have a single utility vehicle or ambulance. This forced the hospital to be shut down last year,” the group further explained.
ARD said that as the country is suffering from external brain drain, Kaduna State is suffering from internal brain drain to neighboring states and federal institutions.
“We witness a mass exodus of healthcare personnel at an alarming rate, thereby causing instability in the system.
“The Kaduna State government, with exclusions of primary healthcare centers, has 33 health care facilities comprising of one tertiary health facility and other general and rural hospitals providing secondary healthcare.
“These facilities serve as the main source of health care services for over eight million residents of the state. Sadly, these are being manned by less than 200 medical doctors, with skewed distribution at the detriment of rural areas.
“In the last six years, about thirty medical doctors from Kaduna State, through its bond program, graduate from medical schools within and outside this country.
“These medical doctors, usually do their housemanship training at Barau Dikko Teaching Hospital and serve as the first line of contact for patients in these hospital. Some of these doctors are being owed up to eight to ten months’ salary. This is despite the fact that they receive the least pay as compared to neighboring state and federal institutions. These challenges have been responsible for the mass exodus of our young doctors to neighboring states and federal institutions.
“This problem is even seen among medical doctors in higher cadres as most struggle for promotion. Many wait for months without their new salaries coming into effect with a remote possibility of payment of arrears. This has forced many doctors to use Kaduna State as a sort of a stopgap before finding better opportunities. This has serious implications on the stability and continuity required in providing quality healthcare.
“For so long we have been relying on the inputs from Corp Medical Officers, who are often pushed beyond their limits and capacities. They often help to bridge the gap in most of our hospitals. These NYSC doctors are not exempted from delay in payment of their allowances.
“Most are owed their allowances for more than four months. This puts them under untold hardship. We are calling on the government to as a matter urgency look into their issues.
“Our struggle has its roots in our desire to build a better a better healthcare system for the entirety of the residents of Kaduna State. Our goal is to partner with government to address this terrible state of affairs.
“We as stakeholders are willing to partner with the government in developing solutions to address this menace. Our goal is to make Kaduna a model state in terms of healthcare delivery,” they concluded.