FMC Lokoja: Residents worry over closure, four months after attack

With Federal Medical Centre, Lokoja, still under lock and key, months after it was attacked by hoodlums who prevented staff from addressing a press conference on COVID-19 situation in the state, citizens have been forced to seek expensive treatment from private hospitals and clinics. Yekini Jimoh takes a look at the implications.

 

THE Federal Medical Center (FMC) Lokoja has been shut down in the last six months following attacks by some suspected hoodlums during covid-19 pandemic.

In July, suspected hoodlums numbering about 50,  stormed the FMC in the early hours with placards and dangerous weapons, attacking and destroyed the administrative block and carting away computers and files allegedly related to COVID-19 disease.

However,  intervention of men of the State Police Command, however, prevented more damages.

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Governor Yahaya Bello

The state government, in its reaction, said that preliminary findings revealed that the violence started when relations of patients in the medical facility protested against the failure of the management of the hospital to attend to them.

Today people in the state capital can no longer assess medical facilities as a result of the shutdown by the management.

The only functional Kogi State Specialist Hospital in Lokoja is overstretched as some patients hardly get a bed space while they were sick.

Such person have to look for an alternative by going to private hospital for medical treatment but most people can’t afford the hospital bill.

Our correspondent reliably gathered that in some private hospital in Lokoja before any patient can be admitted, he or she most deposit N15,000 naira first while a bed space per night is some hospital is N5,000.

The situation have led for the reopening of the hospital by a lawmaker.

A member of house of representatives from Kogi, Tajudeen Yusuf begged the Minister of Health, Osagie Ehanire to reopen the federal medical centre in the state.

The appeal was made by the federal lawmaker, Yusuf in a statement issued which copy was made available to our correspondent.

He said the closure of the hospital “has meant more deaths for patients whose health complications would have been better managed at FMC Lokoja”.

“Four months ago, FMC Lokoja, the only federal health facility in the confluence state offering quality, professional services to indigenes and residents in the state, was closed on the orders of the federal ministry of health following an alleged invasion of the hospital by thugs,” the legislator said.

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Dr Osagie Ehanire, Health Minister (FILE PHOTO)

“Since then, our people have been travelling all the way to Abuja or Akure, Ibadan and Lagos for health conditions that could otherwise be treated at FMC Lokoja; patients with prior medical appointments now face the rigours of travelling, even at the risk of further complicating their health challenges.

“Many indigent patients are now forced to live in precarious conditions and several of those who can afford the trips to Abuja or other cities face increased likelihood of death.

“People from all three senatorial districts and seven federal constituencies in Kogi State are stridently appealing to the conscience of the Minister and others in authority for the re-opening of FMC, Lokoja.

“The centre has some of the best hands in most fields of medical care, including expert eye surgeons and one of the very best cardiologists in Nigeria.”

The lawmaker added that the “senselessness of a few irrational elements” should not be the basis for which Kogi residents are punished.

The Minister of Health, Dr. Osagie Ehanire, while speaking on the issue gave reasons why the Federal Medical Center (FMC), Lokoja, remained closed four months after the facility was attacked by some armed thugs.

Responding to a question at the Presidential Task Force (PTF) media briefing on COVID-19, on Tuesday in Abuja, Ehanire said Governor Yahaya Bello still has issues with the hospital yet to be cleared, noting, however, that a team from the Federal Ministry of health is being raised to engagement with him and the hospital management in order to resolve the impasse.

Asked for an update on why the only hospital where ordinary citizens, who cannot afford the luxury of private clinics, was still closed, Ehanire said: “We are engaging with the Medical Director who is preparing to re-open but at the same time, we are still trying to iron out the issue with the governor, who has his own complaint about the operations of the hospital. That issue is being handled by the Minister of State who first spoke with the governor and the medical director.

“We shall soon come up with a team to go and iron out the issue so that the people of Lokoja and Kogi State can begin to get treatment and medical attention.”

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