By Enyeribe Ejiogu, Agatha Emeadi, Cynthia Oyinatumba (Lagos), Desmond Mgboh (Kano), Fred Ezeh (Abuja), Timothy Olanrewaju (Maiduguri), Okey Sampson (Umuahia), Chijioke Agwu (Abakaliki), Rose Ejembi (Makurdi), Paul Osuyi (Asaba), Gyang Bere (Jos), Layi Olanrewaju (Ilorin), Olanrewaju Lawal (Birnin-Kebbi), Noah Ebije (Kaduna), Stanley Uzoaru, George Onyejiuwa (Owerri), Femi Folaranmi (Yenagoa), Obinna Odogwu (Awka), Judex Okoro (Calabar), Geoffrey Anyanwu, Jude Chinedu (Enugu), and Emmanuel Adeyemi (Lokoja)
Misery, like a blanket, has covered the poor as the strike embarked upon by members of the National Association of Resident Doctors, NARD, on August 2, bites harder.
Cut off from access to healthcare services in government hospitals across the country, the aphorism that the grass suffers when two elephants fight has again come true for the poor. Even the effort of consultants to offer skeletal services to the most vulnerable and in dire emergency cases, with the support of the other professional groups (house officers, youth corps doctors, nurses, etc.) in the healthcare delivery chain, has essentially been like a drop of water in the ocean.
The result is that patients who can afford to pay have shifted base to private hospitals while the poor have either resorted to the neighbourhood patent medicine dealers, the ubiquitous alternative medicine practitioners or return home to wait for death to come.
Reports from across the country paint a grim picture of the situation and the urgent need for the striking doctors and the government to find a meeting point to end the industrial action.
At the National Hospital, Abuja, which on a normal day is a beehive of activities, what confronts a visitor to the health facility is a pathetic picture. Wards that once teemed with patients on admission and receiving treatment were practically empty as the strike forced relations of patients to move them to private hospitals.
As the industrial action lingers, consultants have been making their best efforts to provide skeletal services to a few compelling cases. In various small groups pharmacists and several other administrative staff of the hospital gathered to discuss the import of the recent decision of the National Industrial Court (NIC) to adjourn the suit on the strike to September 15, 2021.
An official of the hospital, who requested not to be identified in print, lamented that the situation had become terrible to the point that they helplessly watch patients die in agony.
“You can see that the busy hospital street is deserted, doctors absent, and as a result, patients seek alternative care. The wards are practically empty. Consultants are unavailable because some of them often engage in private practice. The worst is that we don’t know when this will end going by the judgment of Monday,” the official said.
Expectedly, private hospitals in Abuja are reaping benefits from the strike as Sunday Sun learnt from the official who said: “A patient that was scheduled for a surgery that would have cost him N300,000 to N400,000, was forced to pay N1.5 million in one of the private hospitals in Abuja (name withheld). That’s ridiculous and outrageous!
“But the few privileged ones that are on a health insurance scheme are receiving medical services, but there’s limit to what the insurance covers. Millions of other people are left helpless.”
Meanwhile, a house keeper in one of the wards, Rakiyatu Saki, said that she noticed an increase in deaths particularly in the first few days of the strike going by frequent arrivals at the mortuary.
“Every few minutes, you will hear a loud scream from a ward, and that means death. Many patients who have been in hospital for months now are suffering badly,” Saki said, adding that many people had thought the strike would not last beyond few hours or days, hence they delayed the decision to evacuate the patients.
She added: “It was from the night before the strike started that people began to evacuate their sick ones from the hospital to private health care facilities, particularly for those that could afford such services. Visit our wards that used to be filled with patients, and you will meet empty beds. It’s only in the dialysis unit and few other sections that some who care are working, but that is based on appointment.”
At the car park opposite the National Hospital, a taxi driver, Ikenna Akadi, told Sunday Sun that there was a massive exodus of patients in the first few days of the doctor’s strike.
“The work started for us the night before the commencement of the strike when the news of strike became stronger. We were moving patients to private clinics based on the health situation and where they could find help. I moved three patients to Alliance Hospital in Garki, Abuja; two to Zankili hospital, and to several other private health care facilities. As I was moving the patients, my colleagues were doing so too. Ambulances were also engaged in the evacuation, while families used their vehicles to evacuate sick relations to several other private hospitals “ he said.
In FCT owned hospitals located in Asokoro, Maitama, Wuse, Nyanya, Kubwa and several other locations, the experience was more terrible because of their proximity and accessibility to the people.
A pregnant woman, Ihuoma Onyeka, who was in labour was left unattended to in Asokoro district hospital where she had her anti-natal services. She was quickly advised to visit a private hospital for proper and urgent attention.
Her words: “I visited the first hospital, I was told to deposit N400,000 if it’s for safe delivery and more than that for CS. I couldn’t afford that because I hawk food items on the street. I left the hospital. Someone later recommended another hospital in Apo Legislative Quarters, Abuja. That was where they charged me N150, 000. Thank God for safe delivery. This is what I could have done with far less money in Asokoro hospital where I did my anti-natal.”
More than 80 per cent of patients at the Federal Medical Centre (FMC), Umuahia, the Abia State capital, who were on admission before the strike have been evacuated by their relatives to a missionary hospital on Aba Road, Umuahia and other private hospitals.
“Many children on admission at FMC have been taken to a private hospital opposite Golden Guinea brewery, Umuahia by their parents to save them from death,” a worker at FMC told Sunday Sun on condition of anonymity.
He added: “Some relatives are willing to evacuate their sick ones from FMC, but the heavy bill they accumulated before the strike is the major hindrance to them as FMC rules state that you will settle your outstanding bills before being allowed to move away from the hospital.”
Consultants are rendering skeletal services, but it is not enough to meet the enormous needs. Investigations revealed that about 17 patients whose cases were severe before the strike have so far died.
With residents doctors having gone on AWOL (absent without leave), as it is said in the military, the government hospitals in Ebonyi no longer admit patients, leaving sick people to visit private facilities for medical care.
A visit to the Alex-Ekwueme Federal University Teaching Hospital, Abakaliki (AE-FUTHA) showed that only few patients were on admission in the wards and being attended to by nurses on duty.
One of the matrons at the hospital told Sunday Sun that though the strike seriously affected service delivery, the hospital was making efforts to offer skeletal services to save the lives of patients on daily basis.
“The strike has affected our services, but you can see, we (the nurses), consultants and casualty doctors are doing our best to save the lives of our patients. What we do is that if your case is not severe we will give you treatment and ask you to go home. We don’t admit patients to stay for treatment. And if you come here and your case is not what we can do, then we will not admit you; we will ask you to go. And that is why you can see the hall is not as filled up with patients as it used to be ‘’
Asked about the fate of patients who were on admission before the strike, the matron said that some were successfully treated and discharged while others with severe cases left to seek private treatments.
Consultants at the Benue State University Teaching Hospital (BSUTH) and the Federal Medical Centre are creditably striving to render skeletal services to patients with special health issues and, therefore, cannot be denied medical attention. While patients on admission at the FMC claimed that they were at a point asked to vacate the hospital, it was observed that patients with special health needs who were already admitted in the facility before the strike commenced were attended to by consultants and nurses, resulting in their being overworked.
Mrs. Nnaji who spoke to our correspondent on Tuesday disclosed that she took her sick baby to the BSUTH on Sunday, but had to leave because there were no doctors on ground to attend to her.
“In fact, some other patients who were there too and waiting for doctors to attend to them advised me to seek medical help for my sick baby elsewhere due to the unavailability of doctors and the severity of my baby’s ailment at that time.”
Head, Public Relations Unit at BSUTH, Cephas Hough, disclosed that the health facility was doing everything in its power to ensure that patients were attended to despite the strike by the resident doctors.
“Everything is under control because the other arms of medical personnel on duty are doing their best to bridge the gap created by the striking doctors,” Hough said.
At the moment, the Accident and Emergency Ward of the Federal Medical Centre (FMC), Asaba is a ghost of its former self. Acclaimed to be the busiest unit at the tertiary health institution, the place is now devoid of any activity. No thanks to the ongoing strike by NARD.
Activities at other parts of the hospital including the Obstetrics and Gynaecology Ward, Neonatal Ward, Children Ward, among others, have also nosedived.
However, skeletal services are still being rendered at the wards following the redeployment of about 90 consultants at the hospital to the units to attend to outpatients.
Sunday Sun observed that consultants on duty were being assisted by national youth service corps doctors posted to the hospital as well as other health workers.
The dire situation affected a patient who purportedly fell off from an electric pole and was rushed to the emergency ward as he was referred to another hospital for attention. While the wards were empty without patients, the hospital management said that patients on admission before the strike were managed until they were due for discharge.
Medical Director of the hospital, Dr. Victor Osiatumah, who confirmed that the patients were not sent away, added that new cases were not being accepted.
“What we have done is to redeploy other workers including about 90 consultants to make sure that all the emergency points are covered.
“If you go to the emergency ward, people are on duty, just that the turnout has been low because of misinformation as a result of the fact that people don’t know the difference when doctors are on strike.
“The real information is that FMC is not on strike, the resident doctors, one group of health personnel is on strike, other groups of health professionals are working. We have posted doctors to the adult emergency, children emergency, isolation ward is fully covered, we have one patient on admission, who is on oxygen. The clinics are running. We are managing the in-patients until they are due for discharge, but we are not taking in new cases,” he said.
Osiatumah said that the hospital was feeling the impact of the strike, noting that they were operating at 40 per cent capacity as a result of the strike.
Upon commencement of the strike, patients at the Jos University Teaching hospital (JUTH) were hurriedly discharged. Several of the patients relocated to private facilities are in pathetic conditions. It was learned that some of the discharged patients died at home for lack of adequate medical attention. .
Although JUTH has been running skeletal services, supported by Bingham University Teaching Hospital, yet the services could not meet the health needs and expectations of patients. This has left those who are living in despair.
The President of National Association of Resident Doctors, Jos University Teaching Hospital (JUTH), Jos Chapter, Dr. Nalda Nanfa said that the consultants who are currently offering skeleton services are overstretched.
He noted that the consultants can only attend to few patients out of the multitude of patients who turn out daily for routine check-ups and other medical needs.
Dr. Nanfa noted that the ongoing strike by the resident doctors is a manifestation of bad government. He said that resident doctors cannot register for exams neither take care of their families anymore and that was why they went on strike due to government negligence.
In the face of the surge in COVID-19 caused by the Delta variant of the virus, patients in their hundreds have been in lamentation since residents doctors at the University of Ilorin Teaching Hospital hung up their stethoscopes, declaring that they would stay away from the theatres and hospital wards until the government grants their demands.
Expectedly, medical services have been at the lowest ebb at the tertiary hospital.
When Sunday Sun visited the hospital, the few patients at the Consultant Outpatient Department (COPD) and General Practice Clinic (GPC), which were usually overcrowded with patients waiting to see the doctors, were left unattended to.
Some of the patients lamented that there was no doctor to attend to them. One of the patients, Ibrahim Yusuf, who brought his child for treatment, said he spent several hours waiting for doctors, but to no avail.
Suyi Adewumi, a 45-year-old man, who also brought his son for check-up said that he was going back home after fruitless waiting.
“Most of us depend on government hospitals as we don’t have money to travel abroad like politicians. So, the government should do everything possible to save the masses from dying,” another patient, Emmanuel Okafo, pleaded.
A 50-year-old pastor, Ojo Paul, who brought his son from Saki, lamented that his son who was slated for surgery was placed on drugs rather as the surgery could not be done.
“I’m here because of my son who was involved in car crash and we were transferred from Saki to Ogbomosho. At Ogbomosho hospital, they complained of lack of equipment and personnel. On that note we had to come to UITH, Ilorin.
“He was placed on oxygen from Ogbomosho down here and was stable when we got here. He had femur dislocation and he was said to undergo foot surgery. The strike by the doctors has denied him needed attention on him.
“My son, Ojo Favour, is a 22-year-old medical student in a Russian university. He just came home to invite us to his graduation slated for October. He had a car accident alongside his friend. The few available doctors just come to prescribe drugs. I was told that if they do the operation, there won’t be anybody to monitor him. The surgical operation will not be done until they call off the strike. This means my son will have to be here in pains until the strike is over,” he said, as he wiped tear drops that rolled down his face.
Braving the odds, consultants and some senior teaching staff at the University of Maiduguri Teaching Hospital (UMTH), have been attending to patients to fill the yawning gap in healthcare delivery created by resident doctors’ strike.
At the Accident and Emergency (A&E) Unit, and the Outpatient Department (OPD), dozens of patients were observed waiting for hours to see the few consultants available.
The waiting lounge of the OPD Family Clinic was partially filled with patients on Wednesday unlike in the past. A patient, Hauwa, told Sunday Sun many patients who cannot afford the cost of treatment in private hospitals have resorted to self-medication.
A Consultant Physician and Head, Family Medicine, Dr Abubakar Mohammed, said most consultants in the hospital had been devoting more time to attend to patients beyond their administrative duties.
“We have to shift the administrative work to some other time to see the patients,” he told Sunday Sun. He said it was an arrangement made by the management of the hospital to ensure that patients who came to the hospital were not turned back.
He, however, noted that the consultants were overwhelmed, a development he said was unhealthy for the management of patients’ health, adding that such situation could lead to error.
With 107 resident doctors withdrawing their services at the Federal Medical Centre (FMC), Birnin Kebbi, it was foregone conclusion that the impact would be immense.
It was an ugly scenario at the Obsterics and Gynaecology Unit seeing pregnant women waiting endlessly to see their doctors.
Take the case of a 35-year-old patient who refused to disclose her name, and whose blood pressure before the strike had risen to between 210 and 230, a dangerous zone for a pregnant woman. That was a clear indication that she was suffering from pregnancy-induced hypertension that could degenerate to eclampsia.
“I am going back home because the doctors that have been attending to me are not around. The only option left for me and my husband is to go to a private hospital,” she said in a voice laden with emotion.
Also, at the paediatric ward, nursing mothers were seen waiting in hope to meet their doctors.
Commenting on the impact of the strike, a nursing mother with a baby, Abdullahi, said: “Like now, my baby, was diagnosed with severe fever and he has been on admission. We were transferred to this hospital, but see us now, the doctors are on strike. Only the nurses are attending to us. We are considering leaving this place to a private hospital. But this is the only place we can get better service. Only God can help us in this country, because we are tired, we can’t afford the money to go to the private hospital now.”
Sunday Sun observed that the nurses had been making extra efforts to attend to patients to the level of their professional capacity.
Another staff at the FMC in a chat with Sunday Sun explained the reason many patients crowd into the facility, and expressed frustration over the inability of the state-owned hospitals to handle primary health issues.
“All the primary health issues that are supposed to be treated at the state hospitals are being brought to this place which is supposed to be treating secondary and tertiary health issues.
“Again, we only have three consultants on ground attending to patients. I pray the Federal Government would do the needful to end this resident doctors’ strike to save many patients from dying.”
In Enugu, activities at both federal and state government hospitals have been paralyzed, leaving patients groaning. At the University of Nigeria Teaching Hospital (UNTH), Ituku Ozalla, National Orthopedic Hospital, Enugu and the Enugu State University Teaching Hospital (ESUT-TH), Parklane, Enugu, the same grim situation confronted Sunday Sun as only the nurses were visible attending to patients.
At the UNTH, patients were discharged to seek medical attention in private hospitals.
Regarding the presence of few patients still on admission at the time of the visit, a hospital staff said: “Most of these ones still in the hospital are those who have no money to pay their bills and had to stay back in the hospital. It is only the consultants that are attending to the patients and you can imagine how many they can handle.
“You know they are not many like the resident doctors. Some consultants can be pompous too; some will just come and say, ‘I will only see four or five persons’ and you give the names of five they want to attend to and that’s all.
“Actually, many of the patients have left the hospital and I tell you most of them have gone to the private hospitals of these consultants and resident doctors.”
The President of Association of Resident Doctors (ARD), UNTH, Dr. Amobi Amoha, told Sunday Sun that before the resident doctors embarked on the strike, they handed over the patients to the consultants.
He explained why: “You know in the hospital the consultants are the owners of the patients, not the resident doctors, because the resident doctors are still under training. We are working under the instructions of the consultants. That is why all of us are undergoing training to become consultants so that we can add to the workforce to deliver effective and efficient healthcare delivery. So what we did before we went on strike that day was that we handed over the patients to the consultants, that’s what we did, but you know it will overwhelm them.”
The situation seem to be worse at the state owned ESUTH Parklane as one of the nurses who pleaded anonymity said that the strike had crippled major activities at the hospital while intakes of new patients had been temporarily halted.
At the National Orthopedic Hospital Enugu, one of the patients, Mr. Jude Obisike, said though the consultants were offering skeletal services, the absence of resident doctors was still seriously felt by the patients.
He said,:“I am tired here. The only people who come here are consultants and the nurses who you’re seeing everywhere. But the normal doctors who have been taking care of us have not come here since Monday.”
However, of the three hospitals, the Chief Medical Director (CMD) of UNTH, Dr. Obinna Onodugo, received commendation for his efforts to provide equipment and other facilities in the hospital.
In line with what has been observed in several federal hospitals in other states, patients that were on admission at Ahmadu Bello University Teaching Hospital ABUTH, Shika, Zaria, before the NARD strike started are being attended to by medical consultants.
The Hospital Information, Protocol & Public Relations Officer, Mrs Wakilah T. Iliyasu made this known to Sunday Sun.
She said: “Patients with critical conditions are still being attended to because the consultants are not on strike. But stable patients were discharged.”
While stating that she could not provide statistics on the number of patients that have died since the strike began, Wakilah affirmed this much: “Skeletal and emergency services are being rendered in our Accident and Emergency (A&E) Unit, Labour Ward, Emergency Paediatric Unit, (EPU), and emergency operations in the theatres. The ongoing strike is a national strike, but over the last two years, ABUTH has been undergoing radical infrastructural development and installation of modern medical/office equipment.
“For instance, ABUTH recently commissioned a 1.5 Tesla MRI machine which is first-of-its -kind in Nigeria. The expansion and renovation of the labour ward complex, construction of additional A&E, renovation of the male surgical ward, female surgical ward, orthopaedic ward and Maxillo Facial Unit (MFU), renovation and expansion of the old A&E. Presently, there are several ongoing constructions and renovations within the hospital.”
In the Imo State capital, the Federal Medical Centre (FMC), Owerri has resorted to using National Youth Service Corps (NYSC) doctors in place of the residential doctors that are on strike.
Although a few consultants were available to support them, families of stranded by the resident doctors’ strike have removed them from the wards.
“Most of the patients were discharged immediately the strike commenced. You know there are no more resident doctors, the wards are almost empty except those that had emergency like accident,” a senior official told Sunday Sun in confidence. In view of the dire short supply of experienced doctors to handle patients, the hospital has stopped admitting new patients, including emergency cases. It was gathered that no death has been recorded at the health facility since the strike began.
A patient, Eguzozie, said that he was compelled to visit the FMC to see a specialist because of a complication that developed in the prostate surgery he had at a private hospital. Unfortunately he was turned back. Also, Madam Iwedike Agboma, was equally directed to seek treatment elsewhere.
It has been lamentation galore and pain for families and patients as the NARD strike has continued to take a toll on their lives. At the University of Benin Teaching Hospital (UBTH), several persons who have been visiting the hospital have become frustrated over their inability to get medical services. All efforts to get the number of deaths at the hospital as a result of the strike failed as officials declined to disclose such information. In the wake of the strike, consultant told Sunday Sun: “We are not admitting new patients for now. All we do is run our clinics on our clinic days.”
The padlock on the entrance of the male ward of the Federal Medical Centre (FMC), Yenagoa, Bayelsa State summarised the effect of the NARD strike.
To ensure full compliance and total shutdown of activities, members of Bayelsa State chapter of NARD, led by Dr Divine Iriole, had gone round the wards to lock the doors to ensure none of their members was compelled to work.
Investigations revealed that the NARD even locked the canteen before the management prevailed on them to open it since non-members of the association working at the hospital also use the canteen.
The strike has paralysed activities at the FMC, forcing patients to seek medical care at private hospitals in the state capital.
Sunday Sun visit to the hospital revealed that skeletal services were still being offered by the hospital management to bridge the gap especially for those with emergence cases.
Mrs Anges Ebifemowei, who said her daughter’s wound was being dressed, mistakenly assumed Sunday Sun reporter to be a doctor and lamented: “Please when is this strike going to end? Since I have been coming I have not seen any doctor, it has been nurses that have been dressing her wound, but the wound has refused to heal. I cannot afford to go to private hospital since I don’t have big money to pay.”
Head of Clinical Services (HCS), Dr Peter Alabrah, in an interview said: “We have doctors on contract at the hospital who are helping to attend to patients. We also have consultants and junior doctors who are not part of NARD. There are also Youth Corps members. These are the people we are using.”
At the state owned Niger Delta University Teaching Hospital (NDUTH), Okolobiri, which ordinarily should serve as an alternative to the FMC, the situation is the same as the NARD Okolobiri chapter even has local issues to contend with the state government aside the national issues.
Consultants have stepped in to offer skeletal services. A consultant who spoke on condition of anonymity said that before the national strike, NARD members at the NDUTH were aggrieved over infrastructure, equipment and welfare issues.
He said that even if the national NARD called off its strike the local chapter might continue the industrial action.
Medical students undergoing training at the Nnamdi Azikiwe University Teaching Hospital (NAUTH), Nnewi have agonising experience since the strike started, given that their training substantially supervised by the striking resident doctors stopped.
One the students, a 500 Level student, Nneoma, said in a brief chat: “As 500 Level students, we’re mostly clinical students. We live in the hospital and most of what we do is clinically based and involve doctors and patients. So, with the ongoing NARD strike, we do not have patients on admission, which means that we cannot practice or clear cases that will come out in our examinations. When you go to the clinics, the attention we get is usually not that optimal because the consultants are overwhelmed with the work. This is affecting us even in our upcoming examinations. I believe that what NARD is fighting is in our own interest because we all will become doctors one day. If they lose this fight, it’s going to be terrible for us as young doctors in the future. So, the government should listen.”
A nursing student at College of Nursing Science, Amichi, Chinweze Nwakasi, lamented that his training session at NAUTH, which was supposed to last for one month, has been cut short.
“We do come here to have our experience as student nurses. It is supposed to be for a period of one month. This strike is having effect on the students and the patients as well because through the patients, the students will learn. They get exposed to different ailments and how to manage them. In the future, they might encounter such as staff nurses.”
A visit to the usually crowded Federal Medical Centre, Ebute-Metta in Yaba area of Lagos State, delivery of healthcare services has been at very low ebb. At the Accident and Emergency Unit, few patients were seen. The Family Planning Clinic had only one female consultant and two nurses available to hold forte for the day.
At the Lagos University Teaching Hospital (LUTH) last Tuesday showed that skeletal services were still being rendered to the patients in the hospital. The Head, Corporate Services Division of the hospital, Mr Pius Ewa, while acknowleging that the hospital was not working at its peak, he however said the health facility was “working quite alright” adding, “the hospital still admits as many patients that need medical attention; we don’t turn any patients in need of medical attention back.”
A security personnel at the hospital also confirmed that the hospital was still quite functional in its activities as patients were still being received as usual.
Sunday Sun equally observed that activities in the premises were still running as some medical staff, whose designation could not be ascertained at the time of the visit were seen attending to patients that needed medical attention.
The beehive of activities usually observed at the Neuro-Psychiatric Hospital, Calabar, has witnessed a lull as the NARD strike went into the third week. However, skeletal services are still being offered, particularly to critical cases admitted into the hospital before the strike started and, therefore, could not be sent away.
Some of the patients spoken to complained that they were in deep agony as they were not given due attention since the doctors declared the strike.
Their situation, they said, was made worse by their inability to relocate to private clinics because of the nature of their cases as their doctors are specialists and the drugs prescribed for them are not such that one could just go to a pharmacy shop to procure.
One of the patients added that those of them who could afford private hospital bills had relocated to the Navy Hospital and other big clinics that offer neuropsychiatric services.
Aminu Kano Teaching Hospital, AKTH, Kano, has also been in the grip of the strike that paralysed healthcare services in other government secondary and tertiary hospitals.
A visit to the hospital on Wednesday showed that only consultants were offering skeletal medical services.
A senior medical student informed Sunday Sun that the resident doctors had effectively grounded healthcare delivery at the facility given that the striking doctors constitute about 70 per cent of medical officers at the hospital.
Sunday Sun learnt from a Matron that on a normal day about 250 patients visit the hospital for treatment. On Wednesday only 60 patients were recorded.
The fall in number of patients seeking care at the health facility has consequently affected the processing of applications for health insurance.
Commenting on this development, Chairman of the NHIS Committee of AKTH, Dr Grema Bukur, said: “We are getting less patients. Some of them are not aware they would still get their services. We are also receiving less referral patients because the specialties are not performing optimally.”
As in other states, the NARD strike has caused serious hardship and pain to patients who could not afford the high cost of healthcare services in private hospitals.
It was learnt that so far no deaths had been recorded as the managements of some of the government hospitals in the state such as Kabba Specialist Hospital, Okene General Hospital and Idah General Hospital, among others devised some means where nurses, midwives and other junior medical personnel were deployed to render skeletal services to patients.
When our correspondent visited the Federal Medical Centre, Lokoja on Monday, consultants and some senior medical doctors along with some nurses and other healthcare personnel were on duty, to offer services to patients.