The Federal Government yesterday directed all public hospitals across the country to save patients’ lives first during emergencies before demanding money even as it blamed poor performance of the country’s health system on chronic under funding.
Giving the directive during his first official visit to the Lagos University Teaching Hospital, LUTH, the Minister of Health, Prof. Isaac Adewole lamented that out of 30,000 Primary HealthCare Centres, PHCs, across the country only 20 percent (6,000) are functional.
Adewole, who said government hospitals cannot continue to turn poor patients away, however affirmed that lives of Nigerians mean more than money.
“Accidents, among other emergency cases can occur at anytime, so patients should not be refrained from accessing treatment. The poverty indicator shows that 60 to 70 percent of Nigerians are poor.
This means about 100 million people are poor in Nigeria. So, we will provide basic care through the PHC system for Nigerians.” Adewole who directed the Management of LUTH not to allow patients stay beyond 24 hours at the Accident and Emergency ward to enable room for other new patients on emergency, decried the situation he met on ground.
“What I saw this morning is congestion. When the A & E unit is congested, that facility cannot absorb new cases. When emergency happens, facilities must be able to respond adequately and promptly.
“This reminded me of a situation whereby if you have an accident, LUTH will not be able to respond, and that was why I gave the directive that they should operate a system that would evacuate patients within 24 hours.
Noting that the A & E is the face of any hospital, he said once patients are treated, they should be moved to the ward or be discharge if they are stable, in order to create space for new cases.
On indigent patients, the minister urged the LUTH management to ensure that the poor receive treatment by absolving the cost of their treatment and called for operations of a social system to enable it know those that are genuinely poor.
Revealing that plans are underway to rebuild 10,000 PHCs within the next three years, he noted: “We have the strong determination to implement the under one roof PHCs which has been part of the health project since 2010. By mid 2017 we will ensure that not less than 110 PHCs are functional.”
On radiotherapy machines, the minister for Health said Nigeria needs at least 140 radiotherapy machines to face the challenges of cancer in the country.