Wednesday, 27 January 2010

News Release: DPA Accuses Lagos Govt. Of Lying About Free Healthcare, Lauds LASUTH’s First Open-Heart Surgery

                                             [Lagos State Governor]

Democratic Peoples' Alliance (DPA) has commended the Lagos State University Hospital (LASUTH) over the institution's first successful open-heart surgery, while in the same breath charging the ruling Action Congress (AC) with deceit over its alleged Free Health policy and ignoring the tragic statistics of maternal mortality.

The party charged the Lagos State Government with hypocrisy and lies for claiming to run a free health policy. The fact, as DPA noted, was that patients paid for everything, right from the point of entry.

Citing the case of one pregnant woman treated at the Somolu General Hospital (names withheld), the party said in a statement by its Director of Publicity, Felix Oboagwina, that relations of this petty trader coughed out about N70,100 from prenatal checks to a delivery that ended in a caesarean sectioning. DPA said her pre-natal through post-natal bills, duly receipted by the hospital between September 2009 and January 2010, ran as follows:

Theatre Fees N5,000, Out Patient Fee N7,600, Admission Fee N3,000, Theatre Fees N10,000, Lab N1,900, Out Patient Fee N2,000, Lab N1,000, Out-Patient Fee N1,200, Pre-Natal N3,900, Pre-Natal N1,000, Admission Fees N900, Theatre Fees N25,000, Pre-Natal N100, Scan N1,000, Delivery Pack N5,000, Pre-Natal N500, Pre-Natal N1,000, TOTAL –N70,100.

DPA wondered: "Then, what is free in Action Congress's Free Health mantra? Or does AC have a different interpretation for the word 'Free Health' from the normal dictionary meaning? And how come in this age when everyone is complaining about high maternal mortality a so-called Progressive regime lacks any policy to ameliorate the situation. Little wonder that Lagos has one of the highest maternal mortality figures because of every 100,000 women giving birth in Lagos State , 3,380 die annually, according to medical records."

According to the party, unattractive charges by government hospitals drove poor people to visit quacks, chemists, neighbourhood nurses and native doctors for their primary healthcare.

 DPA urged the Lagos government to offer attractive incentives and to increase manpower in the hospital, noting that, for example, Lagos hospitals had a total of 800 doctors catering for about 18 million Lagos residents, with the average doctor seeing between 80 to 100 patients per day.

"Even the dead are not more fortunate as only 12 pathologists conduct post-mortem on about 40 corpses a day," the party lamented: "Lagos-owned dispensaries, health centres and general hospitals have so degenerated that they have turned to mere consulting rooms. Patients have to get by themselves such basic things as drugs, x-rays and blood tests from private operators outside the premises."

Noting that lack of confidence in the equipment and expertise of Nigerian hospitals largely informed President Umar Yar'Adua's controversial trip to Saudi Arabia to treat his heart condition, pericarditis, the party urged the state government to invest heavily in the teaching hospital.

In the words of a statement by its Director of Publicity, Felix Oboagwina, DPA said: "What an irony, that a local hospital in his country is recording earthshaking achievements for the very ailment that took the President of Nigeria abroad. We have always said that but for poor leadership and poor infrastructural backbone Nigeria possesses the professional manpower to rival any other country in the world."
Surgeons at LASUTH in Ikeja, the Lagos capital, successfully performed the operation on two hole-in-the-heart patients, a teenage girl and a lady, this month.

The party described LASUTH's surgical feat as a beacon of hope to the thousands of Nigerians suffering cardiac ailments.

Commending the medical team, the party said their pioneering effort at the teaching hospital had expanded the frontiers of hope and guaranteed their institution, the state and the country a place in the annals of medical history.

A encouraged doctors to strive to change the notion that Nigerian graduates were half-baked and had nothing "upstairs" to offer.

Felix Oboagwina
Director of Publicity(Lagos DPA)