Maternal healthcare

The case of Jessica Ugwuoke exposes the ugly truth of healthcare in Nigeria. Here is a woman who has being in a maternity home to give birth, after two days of being in labour was rushed to Medical Director of Samaria Hospital, Lagos.

By the time Mrs Ugwuoke arrived at the hospital, she had to have a c-section, unfortunately her baby did not survive.

Mrs Ugwuoke was tendered hospital bill of 285k naira, the amount the family said was too much for the family to afford. After the family paid 45k naira, stitches were removed.

After two weeks of not settling the bill, the lady was told to leave the bed therefore had to sleep on the floor with catheter still connected to the bladder and was prevented from leaving the hospital until the bill is paid.

The family got in touch with an NGO who pleaded to the doctor to reduce the bill as the husband has no job.

I think Dr. Caleb Ayanwusi of Samaria Hospital has done a good deed by treating Mrs Ugwuoke in the first instance, if the lady had gone to a teaching hospital, she is likely to be treated only when bed, medical supplies are paid for, this is, if our doctors are not on strike at the time.

Thankfully with input from local NGO Mrs Ugwuoke was discharged to go home and allowed to make payment after she has fully recovered and starts to work.

For someone who has just lost her baby, it is a pity she has to go through the ordeal that follows. Reality is that private hospitals are the most accessible health care providers but in order to stay in business, they must be paid for job done.

In a survey recently published by Pew Research Centre, Nigerians and other 7 Sub-Saharan Africa nations think healthcare is the top priority for their government to sort out by followed education.

What can we do to improve healthcare in Nigeria?

To begin with, President Buhari need to place restrictions on all public officials from travelling abroad for health tourism. Only then can they see importance of investing in local hospitals so healthcare can reach many more people that are suffering needlessly.

Categories: Africa, Health, Nigeria, Women

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17 replies

  1. Mrs Ugwuoke’s case is unfortunate, it details the plight of many caught in a merciless and inadequate healthcare system.
    FK, what you suggested about an immediate ban on medical tourism is a good first step. But this still means that an underlying issue which to my mind is at the heart of the problem goes unresolved. Is Nigeria a naked capitalist society with no reliable healthcare system that can deal with the daily needs of the masses?
    As you know in Britain a great deal of fuss is made over the NHS (national health service, which incidentally employs a large number of Nigerians). I don’t feel that it is unwarranted, the idea of setting it up is to remove the insecurity over health which had come to stalk the populace before it’s introduction. This is based on a deeper social consensus that the government should indeed provide the basics for the existence of society.
    I’m not advocating copying the NHS model for Nigeria, as that is simply too costly, but the current arrangement is clearly inadequate. There have to be other more cost effective healthcare models around the world that can be copied. How is it that Cuba that has had to endure 53 years of sanctions and is not an oil exporter can have a population many times healthier than Nigeria, and has turned itself into a centre of medical research and a centre for medical treatment throughout the Americas?
    Nigeria needs to move beyond the ‘I’m alright jack, attitude’ and extend a hand to help pay for others who are less fortunate, otherwise the future will be a bleak one. This will ultimately mean the introduction of effective tax collection by government and proper payment of medical staff etc.

    Liked by 1 person

    • You are absolutely right about the underlying issue that must be resolved.

      However, health tourism does not stop with public officials, even normal everyday people do the same for something that could have easily been treated at home if health care fund is invested wisely. If our teaching hospitals were equipped with modern facilities and trained staff, folks in this category will be better off treated at home.

      In June this year ex governor of Akwa Ibom opened a ‘world class’ hospital with all the owambe merriments, people commending him for the good job done. As karma would have it, he jumped red light in September, only to be flown to London the next day, apparently his world class hospital forgot the crucial part – staff.

      I would not be surprised if many of staff he claims he was expecting are from Cuba.

      Like education, it is important that there is a national standard that each state should adhere to.

      Agreed on the need to revamp our tax system so everyone can contribute according to ability. Would have been easier with basic state/national database of people, I suppose we can always start somewhere and improve on it.


      • Just goes to show, that Akwa Ibom a relatively small state with a larger than average revenue, a governor who is educated and a state that enjoys relatively high literacy rates, can’t manage to set up an effective healthcare system, what hope for the other states (which have less ‘advantages’)? The case of Akpabio flying to London for treatment, highlights poor judgment on his part or complete incompetence in his administration. Was the injury life threatening, I doubt it?
        In this day and age of digital record keeping, that effective healthcare can’t be administered throughout the country. People should be asking “what is the health ministry doing?”

        Liked by 1 person

        • I don’t think Akpabio’s injury was life threatening, he has already been checked in Abuja after his accident. This is the irony, if a sitting Senator, ex governor had to get a second opinion in a London hospital, why can’t his aides have the same privilege?

          A few months ago Ondo state governor talked about enforcing residency card for healthcare services as he feels many from out of state take advantage free of healthcare services there. This I know is not fool proof but it shows that at state level, public officials act on their own conscience.

          Fantastic question there re the job of ministry of health – I suppose they are doing their bits especially with tight budget, omi po j’oka lo – too much liquid to hold the flour.


          • FK
            I understand you are articulating the views of the governor’s aides, the fact of the matter is this, they are their to serve, not to claim everything under the sun, as if it is their birthright. I’m sure even the Queen of England doesn’t claim all that she is entitled to, one has to be mindful. The governor should have the privilege repealed. If they want a second opinion, let them pay for it themselves. Whatever happened to humility?

            The Ondo question, that is the thing in Nigeria, when someone dares to do the right thing all the others who lacked courage or discipline, will do nothing and allow their neglected people to overwhelm the resources of Ondo, which may collapse the system of Ondo, rather than ‘pulling their fingers out’ and taking the necessary action to make such facilities available in their states too. If Ondo has to resort to residency cards, then so be it.

            Liked by 1 person

            • You are right.
              What I see is double standard. On the one hand you preach that people should trust our kind but as a leader, you do the opposite.

              But I also understand that some of these guys are paranoid that they don’t feel at ease at home.



    Liked by 1 person

    • Hmnnn Prince. I wish I can decipher what you wrote. But I get not to worry part.

      Nonetheless, let’s hope the First Lady will go through with her maternal health program so folks who are in desperate condition such as this woman can be looked after when they needed it most.


  3. That is just heart breaking, Fola. Access to affordable health care should be a human right’s issue.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. What an awful story! Held hostage with a catheter in her bladder? That is unconscionable. That put her health at risk. What if she had developed a bladder or kidney infection? Became septic? Died? Huge ethical issues here.

    Liked by 1 person

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