Home Opinion The death of Senator Uwajumogu and matters arising, By Henry Ewunonu

The death of Senator Uwajumogu and matters arising, By Henry Ewunonu

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Senator Ben Uwajumogu died not just to whatever disease that primarily afflicted him, but the inability to challenge death medically as it is done elsewhere including some African countries is becoming embarrassing.
Nigeria is embarrassing the Black world.
I wrote this little note and I have been sharing it with those with greater personality, more amplitude voice and higher reach.

Please permit me a space to pour out my heart on the grim consequences of the absence of emergency medical care in Nigeria especially in Abuja, the Federal Capital Territory.
It is a fact that if there is cardiac arrest, a golden window of only four minutes is needed to successfully restart that heart, else, death or severe brain damage occurs.
In proper settings, this is done by the paramedics attached to the Emergency Ambulance service (EMS) of the health system as they are the first trained responders.

Former Head of State, General Sani Abacha had cardiac arrest in Abuja and could not be resuscitated.
Many notable traditional rulers, business men and politicians including the late MKO Abiola had same but a poor health system failed them.
When President George Bush visited Nigeria in 2003 primarily to flag off the PEPFAR programme that saved Nigeria from the imploding pogrom from HIV/AIDS, the advance team inspected the then glittering National hospital Abuja and allegedly asked the Chief Medical Director: “If the President of the United States slumps while on his visit to Abuja, can your hospital revive him?”
The unconvincing answer made the Americans to station a fully equipped, manned air ambulance aside the multifunctional Air Force One at the Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport, Abuja. They couldn’t entrust us with handling their President.
That was when the National Hospital  was just four years old. What about today?
Will foreign investors feel safe if they know that we have no functional and integrated  emergency medical services here?
In other lands, people fall sick. There are senior citizens everyday who develop heart attack. Many are saved from dying because 911 is called immediately. The paramedics restart the heart and sustain breathing with concentrated oxygenated artificial breathing.
We see these not only in foreign movies.
Our leaders when they travel experience these first hand.
Where are we in Nigeria?
Our ambulances are used to carry corpses, not for medical rescue and resuscitation.

Regrettably, the National Council of Health since 2015 approved the establishment of the EMS; but till now, the service is yet to take off. It is also on record that most emergency units in tertiary hospitals in Nigeria do not have cardiac defibrillators, the most essential equipment in reversing cardiac arrest.
Our weak and chronically under-funded health system is one reason foreign investors fear to come near Nigeria.

Let me warn the nation this morning that because illness is no respecter of persons, age, gender or position, the time to start a proper emergency medical service especially pre-hospital care was yesterday.

I call on the Senate to wake up and lead on this task. At least three of its members have suffered sudden unexpected death within three years.

They need to call for a medical audit of their deaths.

I also advocate for the training of domestic staff, personal aides, VIP drivers, police orderlies, hotel staff, taxi drivers and in fact everybody on cardiac resuscitation as it is done elsewhere.

May we learn from this and not merely mourn again only on our lips.
Who is the next to be let down by Nigeria’s sick health system?

What a nation at 59!

Dr. Ewunonu writes from National Hospital, Abuja

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