Olalekan Adetayo, Abuja
Despite the N3.87bn allocated to it in the 2016 Appropriation Act, lack of drugs and other essential medical items have crippled operations at the State House Medical Centre, The PUNCH has learnt.
The centre provides medical services to the President, Vice-President and their families, aides, members of staff of the State House and other entitled public servants.
It is also a training facility for house officers and other medical personnel.
Investigations by our correspondent showed that the centre located in Asokoro, a highbrow area of the Federal Capital Territory, is gradually becoming a shadow of its old self.
A cross-section of the centre’s patients told The PUNCHthat patients were now being asked to go and buy drugs from outside as they were no longer available in the centre.
Most hit, it was further learnt, are patients with kidney problems who are currently undergoing dialysis in the facility.
Although, some of them are expected to be undergoing the dialysis at least twice a week, the centre’s management has been cancelling such exercise lately, therefore putting the lives of the patients at risk.
In some instances when they attend to them, the patients are made to come with some of the items the doctors will use for the exercise.
Our correspondent learnt that the centre’s management had resorted to sending text messages to patients on items they should bring for their treatment.
In one of such messages sent to a patient which is in The PUNCH’s possession, the management wrote, “Mr. XXX (names withheld), when u (sic) are coming for dialysis on Monday, buy IVF Normal Saline to be used for ur (sic) dialysis. The office doesn’t have it. Buy like four pieces.”
Normal Saline IVF solution is used in the treatment, control, prevention and improvement of conditions such as low sodium, potassium, magnesium, calcium levels as well as blood and fluid loss.
It improves the patients’ condition by maintaining proper fluid balance and keeping the tissues hydrated.
Another patient who spoke with our correspondent said he had a crisis recently because the centre cancelled his routine dialysis.
He said the centre’s management cancelled the session because of non-availability of bloodline.
He showed our correspondent a message sent to him on the cancellation.
The message read, “Gudevening (sic), we can’t dialize (sic) you tomorrow because we don’t have bloodline. When it is available, I will get back to you. Pls (sic) dialyse (sic) somewhere else. Thanks.”
The patient said the first time the session was cancelled, he was referred to a private hospital in Garki where he paid N20,000.
He added that when he could not afford the cost the second time, he was directed to another hospital in Wuse.
“As a result of the stress I passed through, by the time I returned home, I was very weak. My health situation deteriorated midnight and my people rushed me to the hospital. I was discharged about three days after,” he said.
Many other patients who spoke with our correspondent said the medical centre could no longer boast of “ordinary malaria drugs.”
“The clinic does not even have ordinary paracetamol. Paracetamol was included in the list of drugs they asked me to go and buy recently. Before now, they were giving us drugs.” another patient said.
The Minister of Health, Prof. Isaac Adewole, did not pick his calls when our correspondent attempted to get his reaction on Tuesday.
He also did not respond to a text message sent to him on the issue.
The Permanent Secretary, State House, Alhaji Jalal Arabi, had while defending the State House’s budget before the Senate Committee on Federal Character and Inter-governmental Affairs, and members of the House of Representatives Committee on Special Duties disclosed that N3.2bn of the budget was earmarked for the upgrade of State House Clinic to a Centre of Excellence.
Arabi had said, “The budget for the State House Medical Centre included N3.219bn proposed for the completion of ongoing work as well as procurement of drugs and other medical equipment.
“The Medical Centre provides health care treatment for the President and Vice-President, their families as well as numerous civil servants working in the State House and across the Ministries, Departments and Agencies of government and of course, with due respect, including parliamentarians and members of the legislature in addition to other notable dignitaries.
“Interestingly, Mr. Chairman, on a lighter note, not only those that have been captured here attend (the Medical Centre) there are poor of the poorest that attend because we receive reference from Gwagwalada, Garki, Wuse hospitals.
“So, if they come, we attend to them and interestingly too at no fee at all, we don’t charge.
“The anticipated improvement of the Medical Centre will propel it to serve as a Centre of Excellence and also reduce medical tourism.
“May I also add that the State House Medical Centre, unlike other medical centres does not charge any fees for its services and hence does not generate any revenue for itself.
Courtesy: The PUNCH.