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INTERVIEW ‘We need trauma centre in Kogi’ From Itodo Daniel Sule, Lokoja Dr Chikezie Justice, is the President, Association of Resident Doctors (ARD), Federal Medical…


‘We need trauma centre in Kogi’

From Itodo Daniel Sule, Lokoja

Dr Chikezie Justice, is the President, Association of Resident Doctors (ARD), Federal Medical Centre (FMC), Lokoja and also Registrar, Family Medicine Department at the hospital. In this interview, he spoke on the challenges doctors face in handling accident victims’ cases at the hospital and the need for the federal government to establish a trauma centre in Kogi, amongst others.

There are concerns over the alarming rates of accidents along the Abuja-Lokoja highway, how do you attend to such victims in your hospital?

The rate of accidents across all the roads in Kogi State is quite alarming and as a Nigerian and a medical doctor, I am worried. I’m worried because accidents are not planned.I’m worried because it could be anyone.

Today in Nigeria, the World Health Organisation (WHO) has put our live’s expectancy to be less than 50 years and most of the deaths we have in the country today are avoidable forms of deaths. Largely, about 50-70 percent of mortality rate in Nigeria today followed avoidable deaths with more of them resulting from road accidents.

As a doctor, I have worked in the Accident and Emergency Unit of the Federal Medical Centre, Lokoja as a Casualty Officer and I will speak from that perspective. I will say that the accident rates cutting across all roads in Kogi State, is the highest in Nigeria.

Currently, a consultant Neurosurgeon here in FMC is carrying out a survey on the rate of accidents, type of accident and the type of care received by victims. He is doing a research and the result is expected to be out soon.

The accident rate is high and because of the high rate, medical staff and the hospital itself are usually overwhelmed. These accident victims most times are rescued by officers and men of the Federal Road Safety Corps (FRSC) and sometimes by men of the Nigeria Police Force (NPF). Sometimes, they are also being brought by spirited Nigerians. They victims are mostly taken to FMC Lokoja and State Specialist Hospital.

But one thing is constant, for all these hospitals where the victims are taken to, the burden on the caregivers, that is the doctors is usually huge. For instance, two buses collide and all the passengers are perhaps victims, therefore you would have about 36 victims to attend to at a time.

First, the rescuers mainly the FRSC personnel are overwhelmed. You sometimes see them piling up human beings like sardines and most times when these victims are brought to the hospital for instance FMC, there are usually problems of inadequate bed spaces.

We usually have problems of the blood bank running short of blood because most of these patients need blood as they are mainly traumatized patients with multiple injuries. Patients that are bleeding from all parts of their body will need blood no doubt. Most times, because of the super challenge we have in the hospital, sometime you find that patients are brought in when we don’t have power supply and this makes the situation more daunting. This burden also runs down to our mortuary being filled. I can go on and on.

So with this kind of challenge, what do you think is the way forward?

The way forward is to have a trauma centre established in the state. You know Kogi is a transit state that links several parts of this country and this is the more reason the rates of accidents along this route are usually alarming.

I appeal to the federal government through the federal ministry of health to as a matter of urgency establish a trauma centre in Lokoja and this centre will go a long way to ensure that road accident victims are attended to promptly and adequately thereby reducing the rates of mortality and morbidity rates following road accidents.

A trauma centre is a specialized hospital equipped with trauma surgeons, trauma consultants, orthopedic surgeon, standard laboratory, trauma doctors, ambulances and standard blood bank such that once a patient is whisked to the centre, everything that is needed is available on ground to save such lives. Establishing a trauma centre in Lokoja will help in reducing the burden of the FMC Lokoja, Kogi State Specialist Hospital and some other private hospitals that handle such accident cases.

If the government sees it as a big project they cannot execute from the scratch, they can as well attach it to FMC Lokoja where the blueprint is already on ground. We are advocating for a trauma centre in FMC because we have a trauma specialist, a neurosurgeon, the only neurosurgeon in the whole of Kogi state. So it is a plus if a trauma centre is established here because it will ease the management of trauma cases.

The trauma centre will serve Nigerians that are caught up in the web. You could imagine someone traveling from Abuja to Lagos and along the way gets caught up in an accident and needs to be rescued. You know accident is no respecter of persons, it could be a minister, permanent secretary, a director or family members of a highly placed persons in the society. As such, government need to do something in this regard.

What is the average number of accident victims you attend to at the FMC Lokoja on weekly basis?

I can put the figures of accident victims that are brought to FMC Lokoja at over 100 on average in a week. However, it is seasonal, there are seasons when accident rates are usually higher. Festive periods especially ‘ember’ months, special weekends and other special events like political rally etc usually record high accident rates that sometimes overwhelm our hospitals.

Most times we face difficulties when multiples of unconscious patients are brought in and you do not know anything about the patients and the rescuers too know nothing about them. We are often left with the challenge of treating such patients because he or she has been brought to the hospital.

What are the challenges facing doctors at the FMC Lokoja?

Well the challenges which doctors face here in FMC and in Kogi State is not far from what other doctors elsewhere in Nigeria face. We have similar agitations and challenges. Our agitations border on remuneration, lack of sincerity on the part of government in meeting agreements as well as poorly equipped hospitals. I will cite the example of poor power supply here in FMC and this has affected our work output here. Also, part of the problems doctors face here include inadequate staff and equipment. All these out together have made medical tourism a booming business in Nigeria.

Most Nigerians comfortably travel abroad to access medical services that primarily could be handled here in Nigeria. Most time, the patients that travel abroad are not to blame because the health facilities we have here are not encouraging. Doctors under the aegis of Association of Resident Doctors (ARD) have over time agitated for proper funding of residency training for doctors. This residency training Programme helps to train specialist doctors.

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