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Saturday, 22 October 2016

(watch Video): If You Ever Find Yourself In A Medical Emergency Situation in Nigeria, Do you think You Would Survive?

The Nigerian health care system has a lot of lapses. And until you come face to face with the deficiencies in the system, you will not fully comprehend what I am saying. 

This article is intended to raise awareness about the need for a more structured ambulance service and public hospital network across the country. However before going further, please watch the video below. It narrates how one woman lost her life supposedly because of our faulty health system. 







In an emergency situation. What do you do? You call the emergency service. In Lagos, you can dial 112. 

However the most pertinent question is,  when does the ambulance arrive? Time is a critical factor in an emergency situation. Ideally, there should be an ambulance point within 5 minutes of your location, but I know that the nearest public ambulance service point is at least 20 minutes from my location.

In one experience I had,  it took at least 20 minutes for the charter ambulance to arrive. I am not sure why the hospital did not call the public lines (again, private hospitals are biased; perhaps they had a retainer relationship with the charter service) but we trusted their judgement.



The next question, would there be a health personnel on board?  I am sure that the Lagos ambulance service has health officers working with the ambulance service. However, I am sure that it is possible, in Nigeria, for an ambulance to arrive without a trained health personnel on board.

I have had two experiences. In one, a relative was in coma, and we needed to transfer him to another hospital. Guess what? there was no health personnel to attend to him in transit. He died.

In 2015, Nigerian comedian Lepacious Bose recounted how she tried to save an accident victim in Lagos, but came face-to-face with the city’s ineffective system. According to the news, she stated that even policemen and soldiers refused to assist the victim. In the end, she found an ambulance that was on its way back to one of the general hospitals, and it was the said ambulance that took the victim to the hospital.

In a similar story, a general hospital refused to attend to a patient because the hospital was supposedly not one of the emergency centers. The nearest emergency centre was reportedly another 15 minutes away. So the next question is, how long would it take to get to the emergency center?

The bottom line is that we are not equipped to handle personal medical emergencies in Nigeria. There are private ambulance services but I am not sure how accessible those are to average Nigerians.

I may speculate a lot about issues surrounding the ambulance service in Nigeria but I am certain of the kind of health system we have in the country. There is no speculation about the global or continental ranking of our health service delivery. There is no speculation about the infant mortality rate in Nigeria. These claims are supported by data. And an ambulance service network whose effectiveness is questionable, contributes to the kind of health system we have. One of the worst in Africa.


We also need to make a strong case for preventive healthcare in Nigeria. I have come face to face with our terrible health care system, twice in my life, and there are millions of Nigerians who have also been torched by the system. I am also waiting for the time where there will be class suits against our hospitals in Nigeria, for malpractice and negligence.

I am appealing to policy makers and those at the elm of affairs to fix our system.  Too many good Nigerians are dying as a result of our health care system, and that is not OK.

We all need to try to fix this. It could be me in need of medical assistance someday. It could be you too. 


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