The nationwide five day warning strike began by doctors which began Wednesday is already weighing heavily on patients in public hospitals across the county as reports from our correspondents nationwide indicate. While many, especially those with critical conditions who cannot afford the cost of treatment in private hospitals are despondent, others who can at least speak are appealing for an immediate resolution of the impasse.
In Borno State, patients at the University of Maiduguri Teaching Hospital said the situation has exposed them to confusion and uncertainty. A nursing mother, Karu Gana, said her son was admitted last week and had undergone several tests but the treatment process got stuck as the strike began. "We were eagerly awaiting the results so that the ailment can be diagnosed but we were told doctors would no longer attend to patients because of the strike. This is sad. As you see me now, I am going out from the hospital to try my luck at the State Specialist Hospital...I don't want my son to die. I want to get a bed for my suffering son, he is really suffering," Gana said.
Another woman who looked very unhappy said if the strike persists, many patients would lose their lives and pleaded with the striking doctors to change their minds. "My brother is in a very critical condition. He was just out from the operation room; and we were told that doctors have stopped attending to patients. And I don't even know what we will do now," she said. Patients in public hospitals in Ilorin also appealed to the doctors to be considerate by suspending the strike. They told our correspondent that the federal governmen should urgently address the demands of doctors to quickly resolve the strike. A woman, Iyabo Musa, who could not explain the nature of her sickness said the doctors' strike stalled her treatment. "I was initially attended to when I came here on Monday but I was told that the doctors are on strike. I thought it was a joke", she said. She urged government to provide doctors with their needs, adding that the doctors should pity the people in their care as they are very important to human life.
At the state general hospital, Ijaiye in Ogun State, our correspondent says the complex now looks a ghost city with only a few women spotted at the female ward where they grumbled quiety with their heads bowed. Some were clearly in pains but could not say where next to go.
In Lagos, the mother of two year old Basirat Yusuf, Mrs. Yusuf Gbadeyanka was at the Lagos State Teaching Hospital (LASUTH) in Ikeja Lagos had on Wednesday brought her baby to the hospital following their a recommendation from a private clinic where the girl was earlier admitted. According to her, she was forced to bring Basirat back to LASUTH because she couldn't sleep all night. She explained that Basirat was initially diagnosed for Malaria on December 2 and was taken to a private hospital in Ogba.
"We have been here since 7am hoping that they will sympathise with this innocent girl. I have called my husband to explain the situation to him and he promised to come this evening. What is important to me is the well being of my daughter because as it now, we don't even know what is really the problem with her health, we paid N5000.00 for the first Malaria treatment she took and later paid N20, 000 when she was admitted."
When Daily trust visited the General hospital in Akure yesterday, some patients were seeing leaving the hospital. At the male ward, a man, Dammy, said the union leaders moved round with canes in to deal with any doctor flouting the order.
Relations of patients on admission at the Ekiti State University Teaching Hospital (EKSUTH) started removing their loved ones from the hospital yesterday. Our correspondent observed that the accident and emergency section of the hospital which was usually full was yesterday empty. The story is the same in Zamfara where patients are leaving hospitals. One Mallam Aliyu Zurmi who was seen leaving the hospital with his younger brother told Daily Trust that they were compelled to leave because they could not afford to stay any longer.
"I'm appealing to all the stakeholders involved in this crisis to please, or at least, on compassionate ground meet and resolve their differences because most unattended patients who cannot not afford the exorbitant bills in private clinics have gone back to their respective homes with illnesses untreated", he said. Suleiman Mukhtar, 25, who has been on admission at the Katsina General Hospital for about two weeks said he requires blood transfusion but it cannot be done because the doctors are on strike. "I cannot eat because once I do my nose bleeds profusely and I need a transfusion. The nurses cannot do it without the doctor's permission and even the attendants at the blood bank won't give us blood without the doctor's authorization. I am in a lot of pain and I don't know what to do," he said. When asked if he had plans to seek medical attention at a private hospital, Mukhtar said, "Where do I get the money? I cannot afford to leave this hospital."
Patients at the Federal Medical Centre, Lokoja, the outpatient department (OPD) was empty as those who came for medical treatment were not attended to while those on admission were only attended to by nurses.
A patient, Maryam Abu, said: "I was not aware of the strike but this is where I registered. I have been having pains all over my body in the last two days. I am here now and doctors are strike," she said. Another patient on admission who only gave his name as John, said they were only being attended to by nurses while another called on the doctors to consider the poor, as they cannot afford private hospitals due to high cost of treatment.
In Nasarawa State, patients said the has already taken a heavy toll on them in various ways including monetary costs as well as time. At the Emergency Children Unit of Dalhatu Araf Specialists' Hospital, they said they had stayed in the hospital for whole of the first day of the strike without any attention. "It is possible my son would have been discharged by now. But there are no doctors to treat him so we are compelled to lengthen our stay, in wait for when we can get the attention," Ladan Doma, a father of one of 13 children met on hospital bed, said. He said the contingency plan put by doctors has helped, but insisted that "it cannot be compared to when doctors are on work; chances are that we may stay here for more than the necessary time required for the treatment," Doma, who said he took his toddler son to the hospital on the even of the warning strike, added.
By Ibrahim Sawab, Abdullateef Aliyu, Kehinde Akinyemi, Nahimah Ajikanle Nurudeen, Bola Ojuola, Doyin Adebusuyi, Shehu Umar, Usman A. Bello and Hir Joseph
From Ilorin, Maiduguri, Abeokuta, Lagos, Ado-Ekiti, Lokoja, Lafia and Gusau
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