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Fog hangs over status of Lagos cardiac, renal centre

It was built to provide state-of-the-art heart and kidney therapies locally. But more than one year after it was commissioned, the operational status of the…

It was built to provide state-of-the-art heart and kidney therapies locally. But more than one year after it was commissioned, the operational status of the landmark Lagos Cardiac and Renal Centre remains hazy.
Hope of local treatment for those suffering from cardiac and renal-related diseases rose last year when former governor of Lagos State, Babatunde Raji Fashola commissioned a state-of-the-art Cardiac and Renal Centre in the state.
If the N4.43 billion facility is put to optimal use, Nigerians with either renal or cardiac problems need not travel abroad anymore because their peculiar medical needs would be taken care of in the country.
In Nigeria, only 50 facilities provide dialysis services with 15 or 30 percent of them in Lagos, while 80 percent are in the private health sector.
The prevalence of end-stage renal disease in Nigeria is estimated at 290 per one million. For these patients, renal replacement therapies in the form of dialysis or kidney transplant are critical to improve the quality of their lives and prolong same.
Over the years, quite a number of indigenous medical personnel have left the country for greener pastures outside of the country due to lack of infrastructure and facilities with which to exhibit their skills locally.
Today, over 2000 Nigerians are specialists in various aspects of medicine in the United States, similar number are said to be in Europe and Canada.
The Lagos facility which would have been a way of reversing brain drain and medical tourism because it has the right equipment and infrastructure capable of attracting those specialists abroad to come back home where they can exhibit their expertise and at the same time build local capacity, is however not doing so.
The one-stop medical facility owned by the Lagos State government was constructed on a once flood prone piece of land within the premises of  the Lagos State University Teaching Hospital (LASUTH) Annex, Gbagada General Hospital, Gbagada, Lagos.
The project was said to have been informed by government’s determination to provide quality healthcare, following analysis of the statistics gathered from the different missions, which hitherto helped it in deciding what medical facilities to provide for the people.
Though built by the state government, it was concessioned to Renescor Health Ltd Liability Partnership.
The 67-bed facility which sits on 2, 317 square metres or 24, 792 sqaure feet of land spreads over three floors was to provide a state of the art cardiac care and renal services with eight specialised out-patient clinics.
Some of the equipment at the centre, include a catheterisation laboratory, an examination room, imaging equipment used to visualise the arteries and chambers of the heart, and treat any abnormality found.
The centre has a four-bed intensive care unit; a modular theatre unit with two theatre suites that has laminar flow air-control, central sterilisation and supply unit; four bed recovery room echo lab; stress lab; 24 dialysis machines; pharmacy; laboratories; ophthalmology clinic for eye screening; physiotherapy/rehabilitation unit; conference rooms; seminar rooms with telemedicine facility; consultants’ and resident doctors’ offices and four unit. It also has two units of five bed high dependency wards.
Fashola had said the facility would be a centre of reference for cardiac and renal patients allowing for cardiac investigation and treatment through catherisation and insertion of pacemakers, open heart surgery, cardiac by-pass operations and a host of similar life-saving procedures.
He also noted that the turning point was when the late President Umar Musa Yar’Adua was taken to a Saudi Arabia hospital to manage a kidney ailment, a situation he said was a low point for Nigeria because available information on good authority had it that the Saudi hospital was built by a Nigerian doctor who left the Lagos University Teaching Hospital (LUTH) in the 1980s.
He said many of these doctors whom he met complained that they wanted to come home and practice but there was no hospital comparable to where they were accustomed to working.
He said that all the equipment; instruments as well as clinical and non-clinical furniture were sourced from the leading manufacturers in the world.
Fashola said that the state government invested a lot of resources in revamping the health sector in the last 16years.
The state commissioner of health, Dr. Jide Idris, said statistics from the free hypertension and diabetes screening programmes conducted in the state in the past seven years revealed that on the average, 20 percent of the clients had hypertension, while five percent had diabetes mellitus.
However, contrary to the information received by the Health Services Committee of the Lagos State House of Assembly on a recent working tour of Gbagada General hospital that the Catheterization Laboratory (Cathlab) machine, which was said to have cost about $1.5 million is not functioning at all, the Clinical Care Manager of the Centre, Dr. Olubunmi Ayeni said the facility had never stopped working.
He said any report saying anything contrary to this must have quoted the MD out of context.
Though, the committee also at that visit shut down the blood bank at the hospital due to poor state of facility and unethical practices by the personnel running it which to a large extent raised concerns about the state of medical activities at the Gbagada General hospital as a whole.
“Of course, we are not closed and we are not planning to close. We are functioning and we have patients on admission in all our wards and units,” Ayeni said.
Ayeni, who took our reporter round the centre for observation, stated that the hospital had always submitted its statistical reports to the Lagos State government.
“Anybody who is interested in confirming this can approach the Lagos State Ministry of Health. We submit regular quarterly reports,” the clinical care manager stressed.
Giving the summary of the centre’s operations, Ayeni explained that:  “Records have shown that the centre attends to an average of 70 dialysis a week; a total of four open-heart surgeries so far; fully operating Intensive Care Unit (ICU) and Medical Rehabilitation Centre, among others.”
The hospital, according to Ayeni, is also preparing to open soon its transplanting centre where kidney and heart transplanting surgeries would be taking place.
Speaking on the challenges facing medical operations generally in Nigeria, Ayeni highlighted power supply as a serious issue that the government needs to deal with.
“Many medical facilities require light to function but if there is a sudden power cut, those facilities can easily get spoilt or be affected. We spend a minimum of N125,000 daily fueling our generators despite that we have a separate transformer,” the clinical care manager stressed.
As an expert in the area of medical management, Ayeni advised the federal government to invest more in the health sector because: “If Nigerians are healthy, they will be more productive.”


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