Saturday, April 4, 2015
THE HEALTH SECTOR CHALLENGES OF THE NEXT GOVERNOR OF LAGOS STATE.
The problems of Lagos Public Health hospitals include but are not limited to the following:
1. Poor amenities
2. A demoralised workforce
3. Poor referral facilities
4. Very low doctor to patient ratio
5. Long waiting times
6. Lack of bed spaces
7. Deceptive propaganda.
To say the present administration has paid lip service to the health care needs of its populace would be putting things mildly, the hospitals at best, cannot be called anything more than mere consulting clinics, they are not state of the art and do not deserve to be called tertiary health institutions.
Basic amenities like functioning blood pressure machines, ambu-bags for resuscitation, thermometers are few and far between, not a few people have lost loved ones because something so basic as constant oxygen supply was inadequate.
The running battles between the state government and the workforce which has led to incessant strikes is legendary, issues bordering on withheld allowances, stoppage of residency training, casualisation of doctors, poor welfare are already in the public sphere. The workers feel they have been bullied into a state of submission by the state government and this reflects in their work attitude.
It should be expected that in a state of nearly 20 million people there would be high demands on bed spaces for admission in the hospitals, unfortunately, the present administration has not thought it fit to look into this problem. In many cases, patients are turned back or referred to other hospitals because of a lack of bed space, it is not uncommon to see people who have been turned back from two or three hospitals because of this problem. Most times they move from one hospital to another in their own cars, motorcycles or tricycles. This is unfortunate for a city that claims a "mega city" status.
It is a major ordeal to get to see a doctor as there are hundreds of patients that throng to the hospitals daily, some patients devise schemes to enable them see a doctor like staying in the hospital overnight or getting to the hospital as early as 5 am. An individual doctor can expect to see upwards of 50 patients daily, this is way above universally acceptable ranges. The doctors are also too few to manage this throng especially with each patient demanding maximum attention from the doctor.
The propaganda too is not helpful, elderly and children come in looking for the "free" treatment they have been promised only to be shocked to find that "free" only means certain antimalarials and paracetamol.
One thus has to look to the new administration to resuscitate the dead Lagos State Health care, and paramount should be the following:
1. Provision and maintenance of adequate amenities.
2. A refurbishment of the Health Centers.
3. Massive employment of health care workers and competitive remuneration
4. Training and re-training of health care workers.
5. Expansion of wards with a view to providing more bed spaces.
6. A proper communication and referral system whereby hospitals are interlinked and statistics exchanged on available expertise and bed spaces.
Ambulances should be available to move patients between hospitals.
7. A cordial relationship between the health care force and the government, everyone needs to feel he/ she is important in the scheme of things.