Doctors’ strike claims female journalist, and her twins

The 14-day old strike by public health workers in the country on Wednesday claimed more lives as a female journalist with Eko FM, Mrs. Adeola Olulana, and her twins died as a result of the non-availability of health workers at the Lagos University Teaching Hospital, Idi-Araba. However, another journalist with Daily Independent Newspapers, Mrs. Olufunmi Falobi, narrowly escaped death as she gave birth to a baby boy inside her husband’s car in Lagos. Olulana, aged 35, was a producer at the radio station before her death. Federal health workers under the aegis of the Assembly of Healthcare Professionals Association and Unions, comprising nurses and pharmacists in public hospitals in Nigeria, had on February 15 joined other state doctors on an indefinite strike to protest the alleged withdrawal of teaching allowances and other discrepancies in the Consolidated Health Workers Salary Structure. Deola’s husband, Biodun Odulana, who spoke with THE PUNCH on the telephone in Lagos on Wednesday, said there were no doctors, nurses or attendants to attend to his wife as at 4 a.m when they arrived at the hospital. He said this was shortly after the deceased fell into labour on Monday. “Her water broke around 4am on Monday and we rushed to LUTH to meet everywhere in total darkness. It took another 20 minutes for the security guard to get a torchlight before he could open the gate for us and we rushed directly to the emergency unit. “But there was no single soul there to handle the situation; no doctors, nurses or even attendants to lift her from the car,” he said. He explained that due to this, she was rushed to Regina Mundi Catholic Hospital, Mushin, where she was rejected because the family could not raise the sum of N150,000 demanded for a caesarean section. Consequently, the late Olulana was taken to another hospital. By the time they got to the hospital, she had already become quite weak, her husband said, adding that the doctors tried their best to save her life by evacuating the dead twins. Despite the doctors’ efforts, Olulana died of complication and bleeding. Biodun blamed the government for his wife’s death, saying, “This government is not a responsive and responsible one. “How can health workers be on strike and the major order of the day is politics and campaigns by our leaders? I blame my wife’s death on this strike. “I’m appealing to health workers, for the sake of humanity and others that have died due to this situation, to call off the strike immediately.” Falobi told our correspondents that she had registered for antenatal at the General Hospital, Ifako, Lagos before the strike began. She and other pregnant women, Falobi stated, were assured that whenever it was time for delivery, they would be attended to at the hospital. “But on getting to the hospital gate, we found that it was locked. Then, we were told by the gatemen that there was nobody around – the doctors, the nurses, and the delivery nurses – had all joined in the strike. “I was disappointed, I almost fainted. As at the time we were looking for a hospital, the baby’s head was already out. “It was around 11pm and a woman, who had a little knowledge about delivery, helped us with it. Then we went to a hospital nearby to do the clean up,” she said. However, the President of the Lagos State chapter of the Nigerian Medical Association, Dr. Bamisan Temiye, said doctors were still working. He stated that they could not work without the assistance of other health workers. Meanwhile, the Chief Medical Director of LUTH, Prof. Akin Osibogun, has said the strike has caused unnecessary loss of lives. He appealed to striking health workers to return to work and continue negotiations with government.

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