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Chief Medical Director of the Lagos University Teaching Hospital(LUTH), Idi-Araba, Prof. Chris Bode has advised doctors to remember that lives of patients are in their hands whenever they consider strike as option for making their demands.
He wished no patient would die because doctors are on strike. He spoke with AZOMA CHIKWE. Excerpts.
What is your perception of the doctors strike and how are you coping with the current NARD strike?
When two elephants are fighting it is the grass that suffers it. If we know the strike would affect us am sure we won’t go for it. As former governor of Lagos, Fashola, said, if we in the health sector know the power we have over lives of people, we wouldnt go on strike. I dont believe we should go on strike because we are essential service workers that is my idea or belief. This present strike is a national thing. Its only our prayer that it won’t last at all. Our labourers and workers of the vineyard will get the kind of succour that they need. Am sure the government have already put in place means to resolve this as early as possible. Before any strike kicks off, there are steps put in place. We wont reject anybody, as i said, steps have be taken to see that patients dont suffer.. I dont want anybody to die because we are on strike
What is your plan of improving infrastructure in the hospital and what have you done so far?
You have to know your clientele. People would come and ask if you have so and so and even if they don’t, they go elsewhere. Facilities in the hospital have been used and over-used about 55 years. That is continuous usage and they need to be rehabilitated and rebuilt. Every facility have a life span. Last year, we restored what we called Optical lab where you can get a brand new pair of glasses within 20 minutes. Our PPP blood bank is also functional, you can go look at it. Also in this building, we have the biomedical engineering lab which is the best of its kind. We recently held the first laser surgery in our theatre and a second one would hold soon. We are in the process of acquiring new linear acclerators. We just got a letter from the minister that what we have is very good, so, they would be sending people to understudy it. We are at an advance stage getting agency to help in our facilities. We plan on fully equipping our x-ray so that our patients dont leave. We have the integrated laboratory in the building which has been so popular and the results are ready under one hour. We have procured close to 200 drugs and now have an ambulance from the Japanese government. The paediatric building in the next two months will be completed and more beds provided. So, we need not complain anymore.
Does LUTH have the capacity to handle some diseases that take Nigerians abroad?
We need to mobilise our people what I was telling you about masseducation in preventive health care. There are many disease around because we are changing our lifestyle to western diet, western waysmechanisation. We don’t work as much as we used to anymore, you leave
your house, enter the car go to your office and sit down, sedentarywork. Our parents didnt do that, they walked mles, they fetch their ownwater and did all sorts of things. So these are the things we aretalking about that make us fattar. Obesity is a disease which cardiovascular disease can be linked to.
We need to prevent it from childhood, eating healthy local diet, exercises, not smoking, not drinking alcohol, unhealthy environment. These are the things we need to do to lower the risk of diseases. When we have done that, we also need to start enabling, like I said each country, each local government and each city need to have affordable, accessable medicare through some bodies like state government. State governments are not pulling their weight in this issue, for example, how many general hospitals really work outside of Lagos?
Lagos state has tried enough, all their general hospitasl have been upgraded, some general hospitals like Shomolu. This is the kind of thing we want everywhere that will take the pressure of few tertiary institutions. Primary health centers, education centers should work, we give immunisation, we should promote health care, these are so many things we need to do. So, in summary, non-communicable diseases are not things that should burn down any hospital. There are emerging group of diseases now that we are preventing infection. Also more importantly, we need to mount programmes, screening for diabetes, screening for blood pressure, screening for urine, screening for hypertension and those that are found receive care in secondary health care institutions , the complications, we take care of them.
Sir, you talked about funding of tertiary institutions. Did government increase funding?
I think government should be commended, healthcare if you look at it historically in Nigeria and across western Africa was brought by the colonialists as a welfare package, so the government after independence saw it as part of what they should do as welfare pacjage.But across the globe, it has gradually turned into a multi-billion dollar market which if you manage it very well, put policies in place and regulatory framework, generates employment, give good health care to people at affordable rates.
We are still at the stage of predominantly making it a welfare package,but the private sector realising that it is a goldmine is coming in. About 50 per cent of all health care is being given by the private sector that is going to rise, it may not be efficient yet but one day it will become more efficient. What we need to do about government carrying a lot of burden like government will gradually sit and say since the private sector is doing better they should take it.
So, we doctors, labouratory scientists should start preparing for that day. When the private sector will be so strong that they will be calling the shots, how many health care professionals did you see talking about going on strike. As our economy improves, those companies that are strong taking over , we may not have patients withgovernment run healthcare institution if you are not pulling your weight.
If we pull our weight , they want this, we have them but if you tell them come today come tomorrow, they will not come, because they have their money and they will use it in the most judicious way. You want to attract publuc private partnership, you want to attract private
money to establish credible programmes that strengthen services.Last month, we commissioned five projects from public partnership which are bringing succour to the people.
That’s the kind of thing we want, things to happen even as the government is trying to reduce its spending on health care. In power, we are becoming more steady and reliable.