…The problem is funding , not diversion – Management
By Christiana Ekpa
Judging from its the name, the National Assembly Clinic conveys the impression of excellence and standardization. To someone from outside, it must be the best clinic with state-of-the-art equipment which should also boast of qualified medical personnel for the fact that it is owned by one of three arms of the government, which appropriates monies for all the government expenditure.
Unfortunately, the reverse is case. Just like the situation in the Aso Villa Clinic, the only Clinic in the National Assembly Complex is not anything different as the health care center has recorded malfeasance, including scarcity of drugs, disappearance of medical items which are allegedly diverted to private pharmacies.
The National Assembly Clinic, it will be recalled, has recorded two death casualties within 6 months, as there were no equipment, drugs and medical items like oxygen to resuscitate the two staff, when they were rushed to the clinic on separate occasions.
Checks by our correspondent showed that the clinic is gradually becoming a shadow of its old self, despite the budgetary allocations to it annually.
Findings further revealed that patients are either asked to go and buy drugs from outside or be given two to three weeks to come back for the drugs as they were no longer available in the centre. Rendering of services, checks further revealed, is based on the ranking or how important a patient is and who he or she knows.
It was gathered also that in some instances, the patients are made to come with some of the items the doctors will require to attend to them.
A staff who spoke on condition of anonymity narrated to our correspondent about the level of stress she had undergone, as a result of lack of loctors and equipment to work with it.
In her word, “Doctors are hardly enough. But even if they are, there will be no equipment to work with. It is either the ones available have broken down after months of acquisition and usage with myriad of outstanding promises of fixing or changing them or that the machines are not available. That is the case at this clinic” she disclosed.
When asked about the quality of drugs in the clinic, she said “ Am sure, you can always get paracetamol and other routine drugs. But anything outside that will take the patient to the outside the clinic where he will be advised to buy the drugs”.
Checks also revealed a disheartening picture of a hospital, which is expected to solve the immediate medical needs of the “Distinguished” Senators and “Honourble” members as well as a host of other staff of the Assembly, is now simply referred to as a first aid center for some of the NASS staff who have been a victims of inadequate health service at the clinic.
Some of our sources who spoke on anonymity expressed their grievances, and narrated their ordeal, about the stress involved in getting treatment at the center.
According to one of the sources, “ a thorough look at what constitute a hospital for the Legislative Arm of the Federal government reveals a deliberate detachment of some offices at the basement on left flank of the Complex, just before the Senate.
“Even though it is partitioned and made so compact to accommodate all the units of the clinic, it is still not enough let alone providing offices for the Heads of Unit. That is to tell you, what someone who is seriously sick will go through to get treated.
“For instance, the Office of the Head of Pharmaceutical Service is located in the Senate new Building, miles away from the “White House” where the clinic is itself located. Again, the clinic does not admit patients at the National Assembly. Admission is only done at Area 11, the extension of the clinic which operates in a rented 3 -bed room apartment. You can see for yourself that, it is not advisable for any one to go through all of that.
“Then the Laboratory Centre of the Clinic is situated miles away entirely from the whole Assembly Complex to another wing called “annex”. This means that whatever tests recommended by the Doctors, one simply needs to taxi to the place. But unfortunately, there are no taxis. We therefore, walk on foot, meandering through the buildings, doing a lot of stairs climbing or lifting becomes the only option available to get to the Lab Section. And then, one is told on arrival to the clinic that all the tests ticked for cannot not be done”, he lamented.
Another staff who did not want her name in the print for the sake of protecting her job said “ There are no drugs available in the clinic not talk of having test done. The only one available is for Malaria Parasite (MP). If one is lucky, then Genotype and Blood Group follow.
Other tests such as H. Piloris, Hepatitis and a few important ones are hardly conducted.
“No kits, at least, for some time now. The kits have remained unavailable, and we can’t talk, because there are a lot of cover up with a lot of things going on in that clinic, but we can’t talk because of our job.
“In a situation where a patient becomes angry and in an attempt to pacify such patient, he or she will be advised to pay some money for the test to be conducted outside. it is not mandatory but strictly optional.
“This is because no one pays a dime in the clinic. At least, that is the situation for now. May be that could be the reason why some prescribed drugs are hardly available” She added.
She said, “The worst of all, is that you can get drugs base on your personal relationship or your level in the office. Those staff that know one or two persons there , don’t face what others go through, because they personally bring drugs for them to avoid problems. This may also explain why serious screening are done before a staff can be attended to in the clinic.
“The annoying part is that the staff at the clinic, including cleaners are part of all kind of malpractices in that place, because they do not have choice. Any attempt to go against them, is to risk your job” she said
Efforts to get the management reactions on the allegations was full of dramas, starting from the Directors, Secretary, Pubic Affairs offices to the Clerk.
The Director Medical Services, Bashri Hamza, Who was busy narrating the structure of the clinic to our reporters said “You know anything that has to do with this kind of response involves the Chief Executive, the Clerk to the National Assembly, I don’t know if people have been directed to the appropriate quarter.
What exactly do you want to know? He asked our reporters.
We need you to react to the allegations of diversion of drugs, equipment by the management sir, they responded.
He said, “Well in this clinic, there are different departments, not just one. Let me say this, I don’t think you were given complete information about who the head of the clinic is and who you are to see.
“I head a section of the clinic that is medical services. We have secretary health services. Secretary heath services is the one who heads the complete clinic
“Secretary Health services is the one who can speak on this matter, whereas, there are directors, about 4 to 5.
Director Medical Services, only heads the Doctors, Nurses ITA’s, Laboratory, that is why only secretary can tell what is it exactly.
“We have a Director who is heading the pharmacy, we have Director Dental Services, we have other directors and that is why it is difficult for someone to ask a director to say something.
“We have the head that is in charge of the general clinic, so I will advise that, if you still feel you want to add something, you will first of all meet the Chief Medical Director.
“What am telling you now is what other directors will tell you and they may likely ask you to come and see me, you understand? And that is why am giving you what the high ranking is, and that is why am telling you that, I have my own boss and I hope you understand” , he said.
The Director/ Secretary Health Services, Dr Eme Moma Efretuei who warmly received our reporters refused to react to the allegations officially, saying that the rules in civil service do not permit her to respond. According to Dr Efretuei, “ You know in civil service, this is not allowed. You don’t expect me to respond when I have my boss. The Clerk is in position to respond to you, unless there is clearance from him, I cannot say anything “ she stressed.
She equally demanded that the story should be dropped, saying, “Don’t do this report, I know there is freedom of information but I advise you not to do the report. You see we are civil servants and you should know how things work”.
When asked if she was trying to prevent the same freedom of information she spoke about, she responded “ if you must do the report go and write to us and we will sit down, look at it and reply you. You are not demanding for documents that we can easily give you and that is why I said it is not true and you should not do it”.
Cont. on page 31