BY: Inyali Peter
For many years, the University of Calabar Teaching Hospital (UCTH) has come under serious public scrutiny over its failure to live up to its responsibility as the only tertiary health institution in Cross River State.
It’s called teaching hospital because it’s a health institution that partners medical and nursing schools, education programmes and research to improve healthcare delivery through learning and research, (Mechigan Medicine).
It’s an open secret that the entire health sector in Nigeria is bad. The Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Boss Mustapha alluded to this fact recent at the wake of the outbreak of the ravaging Coronavirus, COVID-19 pandemic.
While the sector is generally bad, many Nigerians have always looked up to some specialised institution under the Federal Ministry of Health like the Teaching Hospitals across the country to begin a deliberate process to revamping it.
This is because apart from rendering healthcare services, the hospital is one of the specialised institutions in the country that has a mandate to perpetually research to improve healthcare delivery.
However, like many other institutions in Nigeria, the teaching hospitals have failed, both in healthcare delivery as it has in research. This information why it appears there’s a death fair going on in teaching hospitals as well as other government owned health facilities in Nigeria.
In UCTH for instance, the situation appears to be worst than any other. The so-called hospital has become famous and notorious for leading people to their graves untimely. A friend said that “the shortest way to the grave now in Cross River state is to send someone to teaching hospital for treatment”.
It’s appalling and disheartening that a tertiary healthcare institution that’s supposed to train future health workers on how to save lives appears to be exposing them more to the professional ways of using criminal negligence to end people’s lives than anything else.
During the previous administration, there’s was a time I raised concern over the high level of theft, unprofessionalism, uncleanness etc in the hospital. While the management saw credibility in my concerns evidenced in the unexpected Wards inspection by the then Chief Medical Director (CMD), Prof Thomas Agan just a day after I raised the issues, he was not happy with me.
As he was going around checking some of the issues I raised, his utterances didn’t suggest that he was doing his job in good faith. He was heard quarreling and vowing to frustrate me in life for daring to remind him that things were not going well under his watch. This was not mere rumour because when I contacted him, he didn’t deny all the horrible things he said.
His administration ended and another erudite Professor whom before his appointment was running one of the best private hospitals in the state succeeded him in a tensed battle. No doubt, the new CMD is trying to work on the work ethics in the hospital and has feasibly transformed the physical looks of the hospital from an eyesore to something more appealing.
However, with the resent report coming out from there, it’s now very obvious that a lot more need to done to make it truly a hospital as the current reality makes it fall short of everything that should qualify it as one. Simply put, it has become more renowned in killing people than saving lives.
It appears criminal negligence, carelessness, less value for human life, inordinate and insatiable avidity for money, unprofessionalism etc have eaten deep into the fabrics of the hospital that if more drastic measures are not put in place to addressing the situation, one day, Cross Riverians would mobilize and demand the closure of the place.
As it is now, at least eight in every ten people that have had any kind of experience in the hospital have one unpleasant story or the other to say about the place.
Just two days ago, a prominent Cross Riverian was reportedly allowed to die in that place not because his situation was beyond management but because of criminal negligence on the part of the healthworkers.
A man had cardiac arrest in Marian and recovered momentarily. He was taken to the teaching hospital for management and when he got there, the healthworkers first of all refused to attend to him because they thought it was Coronavirus. When some summoned courage to attend to him, instead of addressing the cardiac arrest, they kept him standing for Cross examination and criminal investigation questions.
They continued to question him while he was dying gradually. He answered them till when he was now struggling to breath. He demanded for a place to lie down. Reluctantly, they gave him where to lie and that was the end of the story. Even as he died almost immediately where he lied, the so-called health workers didn’t know. They were still talking and expecting him to respond to their questions. It took them a while to know that there was no life in his body again.
After the first few questions, why didn’t they just administer medication? What if he couldn’t talk at all? Is there any law or medical code conduct that says medication should only be given after some unnecessary questions even when the situation is an emergency?
They’re many other persons who have died over minor ailments that would have been managed because of the carelessness, unprofessionalism and wickedness of health workers in the teaching hospital. Many people have testified how their family members were allowed to die.
A source who spoke in anonymity described the situation in the death trap called hospital as appalling adding that “They failed to attend to my relative today due to lack of a mere folder. In fact, she was expressly told that folders will not be available until after the lockdown”.
Another source, Eshebi Emmanuel explained how his father was also a victim of the death fair happening in the hospital.
He said that “My father suffered the same in UCTH and died on the first December 2019. The Nurses and the Doctors deserted him, they wrote him off long before he died. It was sadden when I met my father fighting to get his life back. Money was not the problem but doctors and nurses attention was”.
Should we continue to allow people who are paid by taxpayers money to continue to kill innocent Nigerians like this? No. Enough is enough.
The management of the hospital should come out and explain to Cross Riverians whether they’re using people’s blood for any form of sacrifice or rituals. If this is not the case, they should as a matter of urgency commence investigation into the highly unprofessional and careless attitudes of some of their workers that have led to the death of many.
Starting with the criminal negligence of their staff that led to the painful death of a prominent Cross Riverian (out of respect for the dead, I don’t want to mention name but they know what I’m saying), we want all those on duty on Monday evening investigated punished for negligence of duties. Their licences should be revoked and should be made to face prosecution.
To the family of the deceased and many others who have suffered this ugly experience, the court is your friend. Many Lawyers have contacted already and are ready to offer their services free if only they’ll have the courage to speak up.
The Teaching Hospital is not just for healthcare delivery. It’s a training institution for future health practitioners therefore, if nothing is done to change the systematic root, there’s a possibility that more future health workers will offer the same thing the current crop of health workers in the hospital are offering. Instead of saving lives, they’ll kill with reckless abandon.
God forbid that it’s in your generation, our generation that this abnormally will be allowed to continue unabated. The life of every Nigerian is important hence those earning a living from our taxes to help us live healthy should live up to their billing. They shouldn’t become the very reason for people to die anyhow.