If you visited the website of the University of Abuja Teaching Hospital (UATH), you would be somewhat impressed. Unlike many Nigerian institutions that boast appalling websites, the UATH website closely resembles the virtual personality of a modest government owned medical facility. You would easily rate UATH a fairly decent teaching hospital if you didn’t know better than to accept its digital persona at face value.
But if you paid a physical visit to the hospital location, you would experience a shocking cognitive dissonance. The sleek University of Abuja Teaching Hospital that exists on the web is a total stranger to the rundown brick and mortar University of Abuja Teaching Hospital you encounter in Gwagwalada. The real UATH is a veritable whited sepulcher, coated with makeup on the surface and full of rottenness and stench within.
The University of Abuja Teaching Hospital is a 350-bed facility with an assumed capacity for expansion to 500 beds. A hospital that evolved from a specialist hospital to a teaching hospital for the University of Abuja in 2006, UATH was established to serve the medical needs of residents of Abuja and environs and to function as a tertiary health institution for the training of medical students of the University of Abuja. However, the edifice is serving as an architectural argument in favor of the bastardization of The Hospital Idea.
The University of Abuja Teaching Hospital is a tangible equivalent of ‘the valley of the shadow of death.’ If your life depended on professional medical treatment, your rushing to UATH, rather than improve your chances of survival, will increase the odds that you will leave the facility in a worse state than when you were admitted. ‘The hospital’ is such a miserable interpretation of the concept of a hospital that you are more likely to die passing through it than anywhere else.
Granted, the standard of the public hospitals in Nigeria is nothing to write home about, which is the reason why the rich go overseas to treat the commonest ailments. Time and again, we shudder as Nigerian leaders themselves pass a vote of no confidence on our healthcare system by unabashedly leading the incestuous medical safari that also represents the capital flight of billions of dollars in foreign exchange.
But UATH is not your average Nigerian hospital. UATH is the gold standard of disguised incapacity. It is a hospital that has the distinction of being farthest from the merit of the name.
You wouldn’t want an emergency to introduce you to the fraud that is ‘the hospital’. Because the experience could cost you your own life. UATH has the one of the highest mortality rates in the country.
The intensive care unit (ICU) of UATH has a 50% mortality rate. That is to say, one in every two persons who enters the ICU is carried out dead. Or to put the statistic another way, one’s fate depends on the tossing of the coin.
Patient death is so common in the UATH environment that incidences of recovery are largely celebrated as happy accidents. The facility produces such preponderance of deaths that it might well be officially mandated to feed as many of its patients as it possibly can to the morgue!
The condition of UATH is terrible beyond exaggeration. The operating theatre of UATH works for only four hours a day. And sometimes, the hospital lacks consumables for surgery. This means that patients have to wait for long hours and for days, in certain instances, and the unlucky ones with desperate conditions have to die due to delayed intervention.
‘The hospital’ is so dysfunctional that people die routinely from simple procedures such as an appendectomy. It is a stretch to task the supposed ‘Teaching Hospital’ with relatively complex procedures because the result is guaranteed to be much worse. In cases simple and complex, trying ‘the hospital’ for a cure is a risk…on the side of assisted suicide!
The real tragedy is that this abattoir of a hospital, this death factory called University of Abuja Teaching Hospital, is operating ‘normally’ in the Federal Capital Territory. It is not located in some far-flung part of Nigeria. Yet, the Federal Government of Nigeria is indifferent to the hospital’s mass murder business.
The killings continue under the watch of supervisory authorities. The Department of Hospital Services in the Ministry of Health is responsible for monitoring the operations of Nigerian hospitals and evaluating the quality of their service. But that department which coexists with UATH in the FCT has effectively permitted ‘the hospital’ to sustain the war on the sick.
The carnage in UATH is an open secret. It is well known to the superior authorities. But they can’t interpose to stop the waste of human lives because the status quo favors their individual bottom line. They are getting rich off the death of the sick.
The hospital laboratory is a corrupt cottage industry of its own. It is in such dismal state of disuse that doctors disregard results obtained from the laboratory. Thus, laboratory scientists have a ‘legitimate excuse’ to collect samples from patients, run the tests in their own private labs in town and rob the sick twice for the same service.
The management of the hospital is an active part of this regime of exploitation. They wink at the extortion. And they receive tithes of the filthy proceeds to allow staffers of the hospital bleed patients of money before abandoning them to die.
One tiny fact: nobody is punished for this gang-rape. Because remittances are sent up to the top of the pyramid in the Ministry of Health. Everybody in the depraved food chain is quiet and happy because the gains enrich them.
It’s a racket. A rent system. A syndicate of vampires!
There has to be an urgent sanitation in UATH. There is a need for a clean sweep of the officials that have reduced the hospital to a slaughter house. The hospital staffers must be weaned from blood money and introduced to a new paradigm that respects the sanctity of human life and incalculable value of health.
At the moment, the cleaners, porters and guards of the hospital are on strike. It’s a protest. They are demanding payment of their 4 months’ salary.
The teaching hospital cannot persist as a mockery of its original mission. Presently, it is neither competent in its ‘teaching’ mandate nor in its foundational life saving and body healing assignment. It is just as woefully incapable of imparting the requisite knowledge to its medical students as it is in restoring health to the sick.
The medical students who finish from ‘the teaching hospital’ are behind the curve. The climate they were presumably trained in is not oriented to groom them to function better than quack medics. So their potential practice is doomed to reflect the poverty of their proficiency –and this, at the expense of human lives.
The Nigerian poor deserve better than to be killed by a hospital that is not worth its name. We have to make the hospital work. Or quit killing the sick seeking for relief.
We cannot purport to maintain a hospital that is antithetical to its purpose. One that kills sick people under false pretenses. We just cannot continue to acquiesce to the reign of a death cult over our hospital.
Our humanity should forbid the subsistence of this scam called University of Abuja Teaching Hospital.
This piece first appeared on SaharaReporters
Emmanuel Uchenna Ugwu
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