The primary healthcare centre at Basansan, a community in Kware Local Government Area of Sokoto State is very popular in the eastern part of the state. This is not because of the quality of services it renders, but because of the ‘illegality’ taking place there in the name of saving lives.
Daily Trust’s investigation revealed that the clinic which was meant to treat minor sicknesses and for vaccination has turned out to be a centre for illegal surgery despite the absence of a qualified surgeon, a theatre room and other surgical equipment.
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The ‘surgeon’, according to our findings, was a community health officer based in Zamfara State, while the health worker, Nura Muhammad is currently working with a primary health centre in his hometown of Mayanchi, in Maru Local Government Area of Zamfara State.
It was gathered that Nura had been coming to the clinic without the consent of the local authorities to conduct surgeries on patients having hydro cells and hernia since 2017. He usually discharged his patients immediately after the operation, no matter the severity of their condition, it was gathered.
Daily Trust reliably gathered that he was being invited to the village by the locals who were hitherto taking their patients to Mayanchi for such services.
The Village Head of Basansan, Hamza Muhammad, said: “Our people used to take their patients to him at Mayanchi, where he carried out surgeries on them at the primary health centre and they were getting better.”
He added that they were attracted by his low charges and effectiveness, stressing that in every 20 cases he treated, “we hardly recorded two problems.”
“My elder brother was one of the people he operated on and it was successful, although, he died much later due to natural causes,” he said.
He recalled that Nura started coming to the village about four years ago when the demand for his services were extremely high.
“When the demand for his services was high, an arrangement was made on how he would be coming to the village and the management of our primary health centre agreed to allow him use their facility. In fact, some of their workers assisted him during the surgery,” he said.
Asked about his qualification, Muhammed simply said, “Well, all I can say is that he is succeeding and even the neighbouring communities are patronizing him.”
On whether it was right for such kind of surgeries to be conducted in a clinic that lacks competent personnel to manage patients, a theatre room or surgical equipment, he answered in the negative.
Surgery conducted in store
When our reporter visited the hospital, he discovered that surgery was taking place in a room that was tagged “store and dispensing room”, without restriction.
The room had two parts; the first one was used as Open Registry, while the inner one was used for the surgery and for keeping the hospital items.
There was only one bed in the room and some items for dressing wounds, which were also believed to be used by Nura in performing the surgery.
Contacted, the officer in charge of the clinic, Isa Sa’idu admitted that the room was not conducive for medical surgery because “it is not hygienic and lacked all that is needed for surgery”.
He said: “I stayed in many hospitals before being posted here. I was at General Hospital, Dogon Daji, Specialist Hospital, Sokoto and Usmanu Danfodiyo University Teaching Hospital. This is not how a theatre room should be.
“It is supposed to be secured, conducive, and very hygienic and the floor and ceiling are supposed to be intact. The surgical equipment are supposed to be intact and there must be some machines like oxygen machine among other necessary things in case of complication.
“Another important thing is stable electricity supply. But here, there is no light or even a standby generator,” he said.
Commenting on Nura’s qualification, he said, “I think he is a medical doctor, but I am not sure, because I am not privy to his qualification.”
On why they were allowing him use their facility, he said it started long before he came and found out it was based on a request by members of the community.
“So, being a new person in town, I could not stop it else I would start having a problem with them,” he said.
When asked whether the local authorities were in the know of his activities, he said, “I don’t know, because I resumed just one month ago.”
Daily Trust, however, gathered that the self-acclaimed surgeon has some agents in the hospital who notify him of the number of patients waiting for his services.
One of them, Abbas Muhammad told Daily Trust that people were patronizing his services because his charges were low. “He charges like N15, 000 which is very meager compared to what one can pay in bigger hospitals,” he said.
Muhammad, who is a volunteer health worker in the hospital confessed to be receiving a percentage on every payment made.
Malam Aliyu who was operated upon in the hospital about four months ago, said he was not subjected to any test before the surgery.
On whether his blood pressure was taken, he said no, but that he was on hypertension drugs at the time prescribed for him by his doctor at the Specialist Hospital, Sokoto.
Before the operation, he said he could not walk, adding: “ But now I can walk to anywhere without any pain.”
On why he preferred to be operated there while there are many general hospitals in the state, he said it was because many people were operated there and had all recovered and gone back to their normal businesses.”
He further confessed that: “This one is very cheap; we only paid a meager amount which I can not disclose,” adding that he entertained no fear before the surgery “because I know whatever happened is the will of God.”
For the family of Sodangi Aliyu Ruggar Liman, it was a different story as their father could not survive the hernia surgery performed by Nura at the Mayanchi Primary Health Center.
The second son of the deceased, Abdulmutalib Sodangi, said their father had been suffering from hernia for years.
Residents decline surgery at Teaching hospital
According to him, there were several attempts for his surgery at Usmanu Danfodiyo University Teaching Hospital and Noma Hospital, which he declined.
“The last attempt was at UDUTH. Everything was prepared for the operation, including drugs for his management after the surgery. But his condition stabilized before he was wheeled into the theater room.
“He told us he was no longer feeling any pain and that we should return him home which we did,” he said, adding that on the 19th day of Ramadan, while working on his farm, he started complaining of excruciating abdominal pain.
“The next day, we took him to Mayanchi and he was operated upon by Nura at the clinic. And because it was already night, we decided to delay our return till the following morning.
“We thought the operation was successful until after two weeks when pus started coming out from the place and when contacted, the doctor asked us to take him to Basansan Clinic where he died a day after,” he said.
He also said that there was no blood test conducted before the operation, adding that, “we believed the doctor was an experienced man, because, I know over ten people that he had successfully operated on and are doing well now.”
When our reporter contacted Nura, he admitted conducting surgeries in the two facilities, primary health centres, Mayanchi and Basansan despite lacking the requisite knowledge.
According to him, he was a staff of Maru Local Government Area and had studied at the school of health and school of nursing and currently attached to Mayanchi clinic.
When asked whether it was right for a community health officer to be conducting surgery, he said, “Well, like I told you earlier, I have worked in many places and under experienced surgeons, that was how I garnered the experience.
The Commissioner of Health in Sokoto State, Dr. Ali Inname, who spoke through the Director, Medical Services, Dr Shuaib Gobir, said they would investigate the matter and take necessary action.