The Minister of the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), Malam Muhammad Bello, has said that the partnership between the FCTA and the Federal Ministry of Health will address the increasing cases of inaccessibility of routine healthcare services in facilities by members of the public due to uncertainties caused by the covid-19 pandemic.
Addressing journalists after a stakeholders’ meeting held with his Health Ministry counterpart, Dr Osagie Ehanire, the FCT minister said the move followed some pockets of complains that patients were denied access to public hospitals in the FCT for fear of the COVID-19 pandemic.
He decried the trend saying that a situation whereby, the entire system is skewed and geared towards fighting only one, out of hundreds of ailments is a cause for great concern.
“Sad stories of people being turned away from hospitals with non-COVID-19 related ailments or even denied life-saving first aid treatments for fear of contraction of the virus have come to the fore”, adding that “The increasing number of cases due to community transmission has thrown up the necessity of all our hospitals to become directly involved in this fight, especially with the collection of samples…”
He assured of a continued partnership between the FCTA and the Federal Ministry of Health in the use of the facilities and expertise of both organisations for the improvement of health services in the FCT.
While commending health workers for their efforts in the fight against the pandemic, the Minister expressed the commitment of the FCT Administration towards sustained partnerships to step up public awareness, which, he said, was the key to putting a lid on its spread.
On his part, the Minister of Health, Dr. Osagie Ehanire, urged management of public hospitals not to give room for other life threatening illnesses to thrive and increase mortality.
This, he said, would bring about a serious setback if medical services, including emergency services, begin to deteriorate in the wake of COVID-19, stressing that neglect of any sick person was unethical and not acceptable while assuring that adequate steps were being taken to ensure that patients are not turned away from hospitals to die needlessly,
He further warned that Chief Medical Directors of hospitals would be held accountable personally for the outcome emanating from their hospital, saying that, “No emergency should be denied attention, even if it means admitting someone on a stretcher or an examination couch, to give them life-saving oxygen, instead of rejecting them and saying you have no bed. You have to do something. The least is to give oxygen”.
The Health Minister also informed the gathering that the Nigerian Airforce has guaranteed the supply of oxygen when needed, urging hospital heads to ensure that patients are attended to with dignity and dispatch saying that in subsequent meetings, medical Directors of Private hospitals will also be briefed on this development.
Speaking on COVID-19, Dr Ehanire said “The Minister of FCT and I have agreed on the protocol to link all major public hospitals in the FCT catchment area, whether they are managed by Federal or FCT Administration, to the COVID-19 sample collection site to facilitate fast sample collection, reduce turnaround time for test results and to bring more efficiency to the response strategy.
The Director-General (DG), Nigeria Centre for Disease Control, Dr. Chikwe Ihekweazu, commended the FCT Minister and his team for their strides in curbing the spread of the pandemic in the FCT.
“The FCT has been an absolute leader in the work we have done. We have close to 20,000 tests in the FCT and about 2,000 positives. This is the highest number of tests per population in any state in Nigeria. This shows the excellent work that has happened in FCT.
He also disclosed that the NCDC will support the FCT team in operationalizing seven sample collection sites across the Territory.
“These are in the National Reference Laboratory in Gaduwa, the Federal Ministry of Health premises, Federal Medical Center Jabi, National Hospital, University of Abuja Teaching Hospital in Gwagwalada and the General Hospitals in Garki and Nyanya.
“We will start with these seven, aiming that by the end of the week after, we will operationalize across all general hospitals in the FCT to be sample collection sites” Dr Ihekweazu said.
He further disclosed that the NCDC will provide training sample collection materials quality assurance and Infection Prevention and Control support in all the sites.
On their part, the Medical Directors of public hospitals in the FCT pledged that no patient will be denied necessary health care at the hospitals even as they commended the FCT Administration for the provision of adequate Personal Protective Equipment, PPEs in all the hospitals.