Directs installation of GeneXpert diagnostic machines at Nat. Hospital, UATH
*To hold CMDs responsible for any violation
By Joseph Erunke
ABUJA-THE federal government, Thursday, warned public hospitals in the country against rejection and delayed testing of emergency patients.
This came as it directed all major public hospitals in the Federal Capital Territory, FCT catchment area to facilitate fast sample collection, reduce turn-around time for test results, and bring more efficiency to the response strategy.
The government which said it had been inundated with reports of rejection and delayed testing of patients on emergencies by public hospitals insisted that the ugly trend must stop forthwith.
Stressing that the development was unacceptable, the government said it was deeply worried that health practitioners were neglecting their patients mainly for fear of contacting the coronavirus disease.
To ensure there was total end to the development, Minister of Health, Osagie Ehanire, who gave the warning at a joint meeting of Ministers of Health and Federal Capital Territory with medical directors of government hospitals I Federal Capital Territory catchment area, said he had directed the activation of GeneXpert diagnostic machines at Nat. Hospital Hospital, UATH where most the reports emanated from.
“No emergency should be denied attention, even if it means admitting on a stretcher or examination couch to give life-saving oxygen,” he stressed.
“I appeal to all of Medical Directors, who we have specifically invited here today for this message, that we shall hold each personally accountable for the outcomes emanating from your hospitals.
“No emergency should be denied attention, even if it means admitting on a stretcher or examination couch to give life-saving oxygen. You are to kindly ensure that patients are attended to with dignity and dispatch, in the spirit in which the Hon Minister of FCT and I have spoken,” he told the chief medical directors.
Ehanire said he had also direct that basic diagnostic side labs be set up at the Emergency centers of major hospitals.
“This has to change and to address it, I have directed that a side Lab for GeneXpert COVID-19 diagnostic machines, which deliver results within one hour, should be deployed and activated at the National Hospital Abuja and the University of Abuja Teaching Hospital, to cut down waiting time.
“I also direct that basic diagnostic side labs be set up at the Emergency centers of major hospitals,” he said.
Hear him: “I am talking of the frequency of reports of very sick persons being rejected and abandoned by our hospitals.
” Many have died having been denied attention in hospitals or told there is no bed, often after they have made marathon journeys from one hospital to the other in search of help.
“This is not acceptable, we cannot afford to continue to lose so many of our people, who have found their way to a hospital, only to lose their lives to health conditions, some of which could have been cured.
“We know that not all emergencies are COVID and we know that our professional oaths oblige us to save lives and do something for those who come to us for help.
“Our calling as doctors and health workers is to save lives. We cannot at this time abandon a divine responsibility especially in case of emergency when our service is most needed. The situation calls for reexamining our system.
“I understand that health workers are rightfully concerned about their safety in the COVID-19 pandemic. So, we have provided PPEs, training, and infection prevention and control protocol for doctors and nurses to discharge our duties safely, without risks to themselves.
“I am also informed that many patients are left unattended after admission, or even die while waiting for the result of their COVID-19 or other tests, which sometimes take as long as 3-6 days to be released.”
According to him, “We in the healthcare sector cannot afford a negative impact on our sector and must be mindful of the collateral damage that can befall us, wipe out disease control gains we have made in past decades and threaten our not so strong health system.”
“Efforts to control of covid19 must not be at the expense of allowing other diseases that are equally life-threatening to begin to thrive and increase mortality.
“It would be a serious setback, if medical services, especially emergency medical service, begin to deteriorate in the wake of fighting COVID-19.
“There are places today, where we suspect that needless mortality from other diseases has overtaken the threat of COVID-19.
” We are beginning to see that fear of, or focus on coronavirus are making some health institutions lose sight of other health hazards in our communities,” he added.
The minister said the government had asked: “all so designated hospitals to make the space available and select the health workers to undergo special training for this purpose so that all are prepared and equipped to protect themselves, but also scale up testing.”
“Logistics to supply sample kits and go around to gather specimens will be worked out with NCDC. The Hon. Minister of FCT and I shall monitor and ensure that all steps are taken to minimize the suffering of persons trying to find access to treatment and to reduce the sad testimonies that hurt the reputation of our health system. We shall also ensure PPEs and commodities are made available,” he added.
According to him,” Covid-19 is now fully with us in community transmission phase, taking the lives of dozens of people, and it has become clear that measures to contain it, especially the lockdown that most countries went into, come at a serious economic and social cost.”
“A not easily visible price we are also paying with measures to control COVID-19 is the disruption of routine activities and services in daily life, which has so affected economic life that countries have had to revise their budgets, adjust their consumption patterns, endure shortages, limit free movements of citizens and prepare for the economic recession,” he noted.
While noting that, “Immunization rate, skilled birth attendance, RMNCH+N have declined. We must, therefore, take steps to ensure that we sustain routine health services to our people”, he said:” On our part, the government has made efforts to provide PPEs to all our hospitals and conduct training for health workers on infection prevention and control so that they can stay safe as they deliver service.”