Scores of patients are reported to have died across the country following the industrial action embarked by the Nigerian Association of Resident Doctors (NARD).
The industrial action has, no doubt, taken a toll on patients, as many in-patients were ejected from hospitals across the country as the doctors stayed away.
LEADERSHIP Sunday learnt that patients seeking urgent medical attention in public hospitals since the commencement of the strike were either rejected at the Accident and Emergency Unit or their family members agreed to their being admitted on bare floor, wheel or plastic chairs.
In some cases, family members of the patients are compelled to stand all night to assist in administering drips on their loved ones or stay at the emergency unit for several days depending on how serious their cases may be.
The stay at home action by the aggrieved residents doctors as widely observed by our correspondents has in most cases forced public hospitals, particularly general/ teaching hospitals to suspend referrals from other health facilities as it strives to comply with the strike action by its body.
NARD began the indefinite strike after its national president, Dr Uyilawa Okhuaihesuyi, announced the commencement penultimate Saturday in Umuahia, the Abia State capital, at the end of the association’s National Executive Council meeting.
He cited the federal government’s failure to implement the agreements it entered with the union 113 days after it suspended the previous strike.
Okhuaihesuyi also blamed poor working conditions in public hospitals, irregular payment of doctors’ salaries and hazard allowances of N5,000 monthly which was last reviewed in 1991.
When our correspondents monitored government hospitals across the country, they noticed some family members relocating their relatives to private hospitals.
Sources at public hospitals in Akwa Ibom, Plateau, Kwara, Abia, Osun and other teaching/general hospitals as well as general hospitals in Abuja and other states of the federation revealed that patients at emergency wards die daily after several hours of waiting to be admitted.
The ugly development has resulted in the death of innocent patients, including pregnant women in labour. This frustrating situation LEADERSHIP Sunday observed has further compelled patients to patronise private hospitals even when they don’t have health insurance.
Some student doctors and nurses at the popular Asokoro, Wuse, Calabar teaching hospitals and other government hospitals across the country who pleaded anonymity told our correspondents that consultants and student doctors attending to clinical services were over stretched due to the high number of patients in emergency.
In Enugu, patients who trooped to the University of Nigeria Teaching Hospital (UNTH) and the National Orthopedic Hospital Enugu (NOHE) to keep their appointments were turned back.
When our correspondents visited these facilities yesterday, some of the existing patients who were initially ejected said they were asked to come back this week in the event of the doctors calling off the strike.
Our correspondents also observed that wards, clinics and emergency sections were completely deserted, a situation which some nurses who spoke on condition of anonymity said may get worse as the days go by.
At the Federal Medical Centre (FMC) Abeokuta, the Ogun State capital, our correspondent observed that patients on admission were being discharged, while new ones were turned back.
The action paralysed activities at the Chukwuemeka Odimegwu Ojukwu University Teaching Hospital (COOUTH) and the Nnamdi Azikiwe University Teaching Hospital in Anambra State.
Though our correspondents could not ascertain the total number of deaths recorded since the commencement of the strike, morgue attendants revealed that corpses were being deposited on a daily basis by bereaved family members.
While one death was said to have been recorded at the Federal Medical Center, Asaba as at Thursday, another was recorded at the University of Ilorin Teaching Hospital (UITH), the Alex Ekwueme Federal Teaching Hospital Abakaliki AE-fetha has continued to record deaths but noted that the deaths were not as a result of the strike as consultants were on ground to attend to patients.
The head of clinical services at FMC Jalingo, Dr. Wanonyi Ishaya Kwala, while speaking to LEADERSHIP Sunday at the hospital, confirmed that the hospital had stopped all routine services.
At OAUTH, Ile-Ife, a member of staff of the hospital who pleaded not to be named, said no fewer than five deaths had so far been recorded since the commencement of the strike.
The chairman, National Association of Resident Doctors (NARD), Federal Medical Centre, Umuahia, Dr Kelechi Chikezie who declined to speak on the number of deaths recorded, said, “Those whose conditions are too serious are being attended to while others have been leaving for private clinics by themselves.”
This is even as a reliable source at the mortuary of the FMC disclosed that no fewer than seven patients had died at the centre since the commencement of the strike.
At the University of Calabar Teaching Hospital (UCTH), outpatients were seen moving to the Nigerian Navy Reference Hospital.
A relative of one of the patients said he would try to raise funds to transfer the patient to another private hospital.
FG Kicks-off Moderna Vaccination Tuesday
Meanwhile, the chairman, Presidential Steering Committee on COVID-19 (PSC) Boss Mustapha, has announced that the federal government would commence the administration of the second batch of COVID-19 vaccination with Moderna vaccines on August 10, 2021.
The United States of America had donated about 4,080,000 doses of Moderna vaccines to Nigeria to help fight the COVID-19 third wave.
The delivery was the second batch of vaccines to arrive in Nigeria after four million doses were delivered in March under the COVAX vaccine sharing facility.
COVAX was set up to ensure the equitable distribution of vaccines, particularly to low-income countries, and has already delivered more than 80 million doses to 129 territories.
Nigeria has since exhausted the four million doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine to kick off its nationwide inoculation programme.
The Moderna vaccine received on August 1 is mRNA type of vaccine manufactured and developed by Moderna, NIAID.
Two shots of the vaccine are administered through intramuscular injection, 28 days apart.
The Moderna vaccines have been listed for emergency use by the World Health Organisation and approved by the National Agency for Food and Drug Administration and Control as safe and effective based on data from large-scale clinical trials.
The spokesman of the PSC on COVID-19, Willie Bassey, also said the flag-off of the second batch of Moderna vaccines in Abuja is scheduled to hold on Tuesday, Aug 10, 2021 at the Federal Medical Centre, Jabi, off airport road, Abuja.