As coronavirus cases rise: Patients Face Difficulties Accessing Healthcare in Kano

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Some patients with high fever in Kano State cannot access healthcare service because doctors are turning them away, Daily Trust has learnt.

Aminu Muhammad, a resident of Gandun Albasa told Daily Trust on Sunday that his sick father was rejected at the Malam Aminu Kano Teaching Hospital (AKTH) when he was taken for medical treatment.

“I rushed my sick father to AKTH in a critical condition but, we were rejected on ground that there was no bed to admit him. When we first arrived at the Accident and Emergency Unit of the hospital, the doctor directed us to stay away from him,” Muhammad said.

“We waited for sometime before the doctor asked me some questions about the condition of my father. What annoyed me was that the doctor did not allow us close to him for him to examine my father.

“Rather, he placed a chair about six meters away from him and when I told him that my father was suffering from high fever, he ordered us to leave the hospital that they do not have bed to admit him. I took him to Nassarwa Hospital and it was the same story.

“Finally, he was admitted at Murata Muhammad Specialist Hospital and my father passed on after three days at Murata Muhammad hospital,” he said.

Others spoken to however mentioned other factors, such as overcrowding at the hospitals, as the cause of their predicament.

Alhaji Ibrahim Habibu, a resident of Nassarawa GRA told Co that he recently took his older brother to Nassarawa Hospital for medical attention only to find the hospital’s A&E unit crowded with patients.

“Despite the crowd, my brother was not rejected. He was attended to by doctors. He was given three drips before he was referred to Murtala Muhammad Specialist Hospital where he finally passed on. At both Nassarawa and Murtala Hospital, he was attended to by doctors. Contrary to speculations, nobody rejects him at the two hospitals,” he said.

Alhaji Aminu Muhammad, a resident of Gwale in Kano city told Daily Trust on Sunday that the situation is becoming alarming as many people are dying due lack of access to healthcare.

He said three elderly persons died in his area on the way to hospital last week Thursday, saying, “The sick persons were rushed to Murtala Mohammed Specialist Hospital but eventually died before arriving at the hospital.”

Last week some bereaved families told Daily Trust that their relatives were on outpatient visitations to hospitals for various ailments but with the lockdown in force, coupled with the coronavirus scare at private health facilities, the deceased had some disruptions that kept them from accessing medical care, which might have resulted in their deaths.

Daily Trust gathered that in the wake of the coronavirus outbreak in the state, the Aminu Kano Teaching Hospital AKTH, the largest tertiary health facility in the state, and many public hospitals, suspended services at specialty clinics and restricted the number of outpatient visitation thereby leaving hundreds of patients without medical care.

Mustapha Muhammad Zakari, a resident of Gwammaja Quarters in Dala Local Government Area, lost his mother who had been battling diabetes for over a year.

He said his mother died in between hospitals after being rejected at Dala Orthopaedic Hospital.

“For over a year, my mother had been battling diabetes and she used to access care at a private hospital. But with the current reality on ground, the COVID-19, coupled with the lockdown in force, the hospital is not operating, as a result, when her condition deteriorated last week we took her to Dala Hospital but she was rejected there and on our way to locate another hospital she died,” he said.

Aminu Ibrahim, a bereaved who spoke to our correspondent, said his father was diagnosed with malaria and typhoid fever before he died at a private clinic at Yankaba. Aminu, like Muhammad, said his father was rejected at Abdullahi Wase Specialist Hospital before he was moved to the private clinic.

However a doctor at the Aminu Kano Teaching Hospital (AKTH) who pleaded anonymity, confirmed to Daily Trust on Sunday that doctors in some hospitals reject such patients because they (doctors) are lacking basic protective equipment to handle such cases.

“There is no way a doctor can handle a patient during this COVID-19 pandemic without protective kits. The structure of management of these patients also poses serious danger to the doctors and other patients in the hospital,” he said. “There should be a specific place where suspected COVID-19 patients should be kept.”

He said ideally, patients suspected to have COVID-19 who come to the hospital should be tested first before they are attended to.

“As I am speaking to you, the result of our test takes longer than necessary before it is ready. The result takes between 7-8 days before it could be ready. You are talking of a disease that can kill someone within two weeks. This is really serious,” he said.

With rising rates of unexplained deaths in Kano, there have been insinuations that suspected COVID-19 cases are being kept at the Accident and Emergency unit of the AKTH. The doctor said there is no truth in these rumours.

“This is unprofessional and I can confidently tell you this will never happen at AKTH. We do have a specific ward where we keep such patients. But the problem is that we do not have enough facilities in that particular ward,” he said.

He said government needs to hasten the testing processes so results would be available within three or four days.

“As a result of the delay in releasing the result, the Isolation

centre at Kwanar Dawaki is already full to capacity. There are some patients who are due for discharge but because their results have not been returned to the centre, nobody can ascertain whether the patients are positive or negative,” he said.

The doctor also emphasized the need for more isolation centres in Kano metropolis such as the one Alhaji Aliko Dangote constructed at Sani Abacha Indoor Stadium, so that patients with mild cases could be treated there.

“It is not proper to keep hypertensive or diabetic patients in the same place with COVID-19 patients and the only way you can address this problem is to hasten the processes of testing, so that you can separate the patients at the state of testing,” he said.

The doctor also mentioned the need for health workers to have personal protective equipment to cut down the number of infections among them.

“Presently, three of my staff have been infected by the disease and they are being treated at Kwanar Dawaki Isolation center,” he said.

This, and added incentives for medical workers, the doctor said, would improve the response to the pandemic.

The doctor also addressed rumours that some medical personnel have absconded from their duty posts over shortages of PPEs. The doctor said such rumours are untrue.

Chairman of the Nigerian Medical Association (NMA) Kano State Chapter, Dr Sanusi Muhammad Bala, corroborated what the doctor said, especially regarding shortages of PPEs and claims of doctors absconding.

Dr Bala said in some hospitals are contending with shortages of PPEs, which necessitated the NMA to meet with the Kano State Team on COVID-19 and map out a feed-back system on how to ensure a smooth operation.

“We agreed that, the NMA should take a periodic stock of its members on duty in order to know who has protective kits and who does not. This will enable us know the quantity of protective kits we need for our members. We do report to the Kano state team on this periodically, so that the team will know our requirement as far as kits are concerned,” Dr. Bala said.

On the alleged absconding by medical personnel, Dr Bala said, “This is a mischievous, false and unacceptable allegation that has no basis. We have dedicated so much time to save lives, but instead of people to appreciate us, they are given wrong information about us,” he said.

“People should understand that since the commencement of this pandemic, hospitals have changed their mode of operations. The business is no longer as usual. Everybody wanted to see doctors and other health workers working in the hospital. Certain changes had to be put in place to protect the lives of these workers so that anytime you come back to the hospital, you would find them working. So, for someone to just go to a hospital and conclude that 70 per cent of the doctors did not come to work, it is unfair and it is wrong,” he said.

He also added that the only medical personnel not on duty at the moment are those who have been infected on the course of discharging their duties, those in quarantine and those in self isolation.

Queried on the number of infected health workers during the pandemic in the state, Dr. Bala insisted the numbers were not significant enough to cripple the state’s response as they are less than 10 cases.

“The number is manageable and the infected health workers are being properly taken care of. We have done the necessary documentation and communicated to the management for further action,” he said.

A health worker attached to Kwanar Dawaki Isolation Centre said as far as the centre is concerned, they do not lack any working facilities including protective kits.

“The centre is fully equipped with state-of-the-art facilities. Although, some workers were infected by the disease, but that could not be attributed to the lack of protective kits because we do have them here. It could be as result of something else,” he said.

“To be fair to Kano State Government, adequate protective kits were provided at the centre and our personnel are using them. However, if God destined it that one would be infected, noting can stop you from being infected by the disease. Remember, we are talking about a pandemic,” he said.

When contacted on the allegation, assistant director communication Hajiya Hauwa Muhammed Abdullahi revealed that Aminu Kano Teaching Hospital has not been rejecting patients as the General Out Patients Department (GOPD) is working and also the Accident and Emergency Unit is also working.

She added that the only variation involved is that the hospital has reduced the number of patients to be attended to per day.

According to her, the hospital’s management had limited the number of patients and also imposed directives at the Accident and Emergency unit  to attend to only emergency cases.

“We are not rejecting patients, we have only reduced the number of patients we attend to per day due to the lockdown in the state,” she said.

Similarly, the spokesperson of the state Hospitals Management Board Malam Ibrahim Abdullahi told Daily Trust on Sunday that, hospitals under the board have been asked to limit the number of patients they attend to due to the lockdown, adding that the board had also reduced the number of staff that come to work to reduce crowd in the facilities.

More Information: dailytrust.com.ng

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