Doctors Absconding From Hospitals For Lack Of Protective Equipment

Hundreds of medical doctors and other healthcare givers in public and private hospitals across Nigeria are literally dodging from having face-to-face interaction with patients because they don’t have Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) that will shield them from contracting the ravaging COVID-19. PPE comprised of face shields, gloves, goggles and glasses, gowns, head covers, masks, respirators (in some cases) and shoe covers.

Some doctors, nurses, lab technicians among others have moved to COVID-19 isolation centres after they tested positive, or locked themselves at home waiting for their results.

The development has created a wallowing gap in health care delivery, with some experts attributing the increased number of deaths not only to coronavirus but to other ailments that deserve constant attention.

The Nigeria Health Work Force Country Profile 2018, launched in February this year, revealed that the number of medical doctors registered with the Medical and Dental Council of Nigeria (MDCN) stands at 74,543, meaning there is only one doctor to 2,753 patients in the country.

The coronavirus caught many countries unawares, including Nigeria where federal and state government hospitals lack enough equipment to address large scale emergencies. Although there has been some progress at all levels in upgrading facilities to deal with COVID-19 and other diseases through special intervention by the federal government, support from local and international donors, Daily Trust reports that PPE remains grossly inadequate, subjecting health workers to infections while many patients lost their lives for lack of care.

While most teaching hospitals and Federal Medical Centres (FMCs) have been overwhelmed by patients suffering from various ailments amidst lockdown to contain the spread of COVID-19, medical personnel are battling to cope with the challenge and many contracted the deadly disease in the process.

There are 22 FMCs in the country and when approached to comment on equipping their staff to be in the right frame of mind to attend to patients, most of the officials said they provided enough PPE to their doctors, nurses and other workers. Spokesmen for teaching hospitals and FMCs in Ebonyi, Bayelsa, Lagos and others spoke in the same tone, saying they have enough PPE for their workers.

This is however in contrast to what the health workers in the states said. According to them, there was a need for a new approach to protecting them. One of the health workers at one of the hospital in Lagos, who pleaded anonymity, told our correspondent that they only get new N95 from the management when the old face mask is torn or damaged. She said some used theirs for weeks, adding, “no matter the quality of the mask, it is obvious it will be contaminated.”

“But the management said there is nothing wrong in using the mask again and again,” she lamented. Hospitals attending to emergencies only Findings reveal that many public hospitals only attend to “extremely emergency cases” while private clinics in some states have closed their doors for all categories of patients, all in an effort to protect their staff from contracting the coronavirus. Dr. Ali, a medical doctor who consults in public and private hospitals in Abuja and some states said this is the most trying moments for them.

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