•A Happy Eid-el-Kabir to all Nigerians
•State of our hospitals
By Segun Odegbami
Today has been a mixture of emotions and good tidings. My Labour Party nomination forms for Governor of Ogun State are in front of me. I am about to fill them.
It is significant that I am doing so on a special day set aside in Islam to celebrate the ultimate test of faith and obedience to divine instruction. So, I am looking at the forms with elation and excitement.
This moment is the tipping point, one that changes everything, the point of no return.
I surrender, therefore, to my Father, the Creator of all that exists.
This morning I read Day-1 of a new dairy written by my daughter. She started it today and posted it on Facebook.
It is a gripping report of her experience on the first day of going for treatment for cancer.
She left me in tears – of joy and of pain!
The joyful part is easily understandable. She is in capable hands. If she were to be in Nigeria that would almost be like a death sentence. Fortunately, she lives in the USA and that calls for joy.
4 months ago, she was diagnosed with the dreaded disease. In revealing the sad news to the family, her spirit and the manner she handled the narratives have been the pillar which the entire family has leaned on accept the news and to encourage her.
She is assured by the environment, the technology and the personnel that will give her the best chance of taming an otherwise ravaging disease in the world.
She is a bright start in the family. Still in her mid-forties, she is the first Black and African Vice-Chancellor of an American University and a recipient of several international, intellectual awards and commendations in the field of education.
Before her shocking announcement, in the past one year, the family has been happily and feverishly preparing for her wedding (a second shot) coming up in November in Abeokuta. She is in a new relationship that we all believe is made in heaven.
Now, this! Even then we are joyous because American medical facilities provide hope.
The painful aspect of today’s mixed emotions comes from my visit, two days ago, to the Federal Medical Centre, FMC, in Abeokuta, the only Tertiary medical facility in the capital city of Ogun State.
My friend and co-traveler on this political journey, Abiodun, had been admitted in the past few days into the hospital for an emergency surgical procedure following several investigative and very expensive medical tests conducted in Lagos. Two nights ago, I went to visit him in the hospital. Now, I do not know whether to wish I did not.
I have been in a psychological trauma since that night. For four days Abiodun had been in severe and excruciating pain as a result of a blocked bile duct. He had not slept even a wink.
The surgery has been postponed until after the Eid el Kabir public holiday, hopefully on Thursday.
Now the trauma. The emergency ward where I found Abiodun in the FMC must rank amongst the worst in the world, without any exaggeration. I believe that nothing that bad can exist anywhere else.
My greatest fear is that any patient that undergoes an open surgery and is returned to that ward for ‘post- anything’ is signing a death warrant.
That is a how bad it is. The beds are dirty and rusted. The bedsheets are old, with permanent ‘maps’ on them from old blood and sweat marks of previous patients. Those bedsheets must be years old and were reeking of several days of unwashed sweat.
There was no water in the wards to wash anything, not even a bath by the patients who are woken up at 4 O’clock every morning to seek for their own source of water to ‘dry clean’ or bathe in the open. The bath rooms and toilets are ‘forbidden’ areas. There is no water supply and the whole environment reeks from the stench of urine!
The corridor leading to the wards is converted into bedrooms by people who come to help immobile patients in the ward. Dirty old and stinking mattresses were lined up against the wall of the ward awaiting night time.
Believe me, the place is so dirty that no patient operated upon will go home (if they ever do) without a new infection.
I have spoken to several doctors in and outside the hospital in Abeokuta, they confirm my fears.
The State hospitals are a little better, I am told, but they are secondary health facilities and lack the equipment and the personnel to do major surgeries.
The only option is to move the patient to any one of the Tertiary hospitals in Lagos or Ibadan. They tell me also that even the facilities in those hospitals may just be a little better than what obtains in FMC Abeokuta.
The better options are to go to a few top class private hospitals in Lagos, or to fly the patient to any one of several countries abroad. Either of these will cost an arm and a leg.
My friends tell me Nigeria is losing her best doctors and nurses to the steady migration to Europe, Asia, the Middle East and even the Americas.
The situation in the country is critical and Ogun State is not exempted.
It is an urgent and critical situation to halt the slide of the only tertiary hospital in Abeokuta into a mortuary where patients go in and most end up in caskets.
The nightmare in my head is of Abiodun waiting and crouching in excruciating pain on a dirty bed with dirty sheets in a dirty ward. Unlike my daughter in America, Abiodun is not confident that he would survive next Thursday when he goes under the knife. Yet, there is nothing he can do.
Abiodun is not alone in this Hammer House of Horror. The general health sector in Ogun State is in a poor state.
The Health sector has not attracted the attention and intervention it deserves from both the State and the federal governments through several regimes. Yet, without good health everything else cannot succeed.
The doctors and nurses I saw in the hospital have this resigned look on their faces in the wards. There is little they can do for their unending stream of patients.
So, all I can do for now is wait and pray for a miraculous intervention that could take Abiodun out of FMC. If you think this is an exaggeration, please kindly go today and pay a visit to the emergency ward (or even all the wards) of the Federal Medical Centre, FMC, Abeokuta, and shed your own tears.
That’s why from May 2019, Health and Education shall occupy front seat in my covenant with the people of Ogun State. It has been a very quiet Ileya day. Let me go now and fill my nomination forms.