Disturbed by the deterioration of facilities in various teaching hospitals across the country, the Senate has summoned the Minister of Health, Prof. Isaac Adewole to brief it on the current state of facilities and health care services on the hospitals.
The upper legislative chamber also mandated its Committee on Health to conduct an emergency investigative hearing on the state of healthcare services in teaching hospitals and report back within a week.
Similarly, it urged the federal government to immediately adopt short and long term measures that will holistically address the challenges.
It further called on the federal government to adopt a policy on subsidising medical expenses of patients with terminal ailments such as cancer and kidney failure.
These followed a motion by Senator David Umaru, APC-Niger East, who said recent reports of poor quality and high cost of services in the hospitals was worrisome.
He said according to reports, teaching hospitals across the country were burdened with widespread cases of poor electricity supply, obsolete medical equipment and decayed infrastructure among others.
Umaru stressed that the challenges had made it difficult for the hospitals to provide tertiary healthcare for patients with complex ailments such as cancer and kidney failure.
He noted that the teaching hospitals by their mandate were expected to train current and future medical personnel besides providing services on complex health matters.
“Several stakeholders in the health sector have recently raised alarm on declining quality of services in the hospitals amidst cases of overcrowding and lack of adequate funding and personnel.
“It is not news that most teaching hospitals in the country had been overstretched, forcing patients to sleep on bare floors, mats and other unhygienic conditions that put them at risk of contracting other ailments.
“It is worrisome that patients with terminal illnesses such as cancer and kidney failure are now compelled to travel long distances to access chemotherapy and dialysis at very high cost.
“This is the due to the absence of the requisite medical equipment for such services within their vicinity, “he said.
Contributing, Senator Matthew Urhoghide, PDP-Edo South, noted that teaching hospitals were established for research purposes, train medical doctors and attend to complex health challenges.
He, however, expressed disappointment over the deteriorating state of the hospitals,adding that it was a far cry from what it used to be.
Also, Senator Ajayi Boroffice, APC-Ondo North, called for the creation of a directorate to attend to teaching hospitals rather than assigning them to individual directors in the Ministry of Health.
But Senator Emmanuel Paulker, PDP-Bayelsa Central, said the poor health services provided by the hospitals called for urgent attention.
He stressed that unless something urgent was done, the doctors churned out of the hospitals would perform poorly.
In his own, Senator Shehu Sani, PRP-Kaduna Central, said the money allocated for overhead cost for most of the teaching hospitals was often below cost of running them.
He lamented that the situation had so deteriorated that in some cases, “patients are forced to buy even syringes.”
Also, SenAtor Magnus Abe, APC-Rivers South, said it was important for the health minister to visit the senate for a robust discussion on the challenges and the need to change the existing structure of the hospitals.
He stressed that the present structure where chief medical directors were answerable to directors in the ministry of health was bound to fail.
In his remarks, the Senate President, Dr Bukola Saraki stressed the need for urgent intervention.
“It gives us great concern. No matter how inadequate funding for health is, it is a big shame that patients sleep on the floor.
“It is the issue of corruption. We need to strengthen the office of the Auditor General to check corrupt practices in the MDAs.
“How inadequate can funding be that there is no electricity when these hospitals generate revenue and have government allocations.
“We need to take a look at this matter as soon as possible,” he said.