The Federal Government on Thursday warned medical directors of hospitals in the country against rejection of patients for fear of the dreaded COVID-19 pandemic.
The Minister of Health, Dr. Osagie Ehanire, who gave the warning at a meeting in Abuja his ministry and the Federal Capital Territory Administration (FCTA) had with medical directors, also vowed that government would hold them personally responsible any deaths that occured as a result of such rejections.
Ehanire, who also lamented that hospitals were delaying testing of COVID-19 patients, leading to increasing coronavirus deaths, warned that “No emergency should be denied attention, even if it means admitting on a stretcher or an examination couch to give lifesaving oxygen. I appeal to all 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.
“You are to kindly ensure that patients are attended to with dignity and dispatch, in the spirit in which the Honourable Minister of the FCT and I have spoken.
“I understand that health workers are rightfully concerned about their safety in COVID-19 pandemic. So, we have provided the PPE (personal protective equipment), training and an infection prevention and control protocols for doctors and nurses to discharge their duties safely, without risks to themselves.”
The minister who bemoaned situations where many
COVID-19 patients had died while awaiting the results of their tests for the virus, said further: “I have also been informed that many patients are left unattended to after admission, or even die, while waiting for the result of their COVID-19 or other tests, which sometimes take as long as three to six- days to be released.
“We, in the healthcare sector cannot, afford 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 the past decades and threaten our not so strong health system.
“Efforts to control COVID-19 must not be at the expense of allowing other diseases that are equally life-threatening to begin to thrive and increase mortalities. 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 mortalities from other diseases have overtaken the threat of COVID – 19. We are beginning to see that fear of or focus on coronavirus is making some health institutions lose sight of other health hazards in our communities.”
While stressing that the government was deeply worried that health practitioners were neglecting their patients mainly for fear of contracting coronavirus,
Ehanire said he had also directed that basic diagnostic laboratories be set up at the emergency centres of major hospitals.
He said: “I have directed that side labs for GeneXpert COVID – 19 diagnostic machines, which deliver results within one hour, should be deployed and activated at the National Hospital Abuja and the UATH (University of Abuja Teaching Hospital) in Gwagwalada. I also directed that basic diagnostic side labs be set up at the emergency centres of major hospitals.
“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 in fact found their way to a hospital, only to lose their lives to health conditions, some of which could have been cured.”Ripples