Don’t reject patients during emergencies, Minister warns hospitals



The Minister of Health, Dr Osagie Ehanire, has warned management of hospitals across Nigeria against rejection of patients, saying it is unethical.

Ehanire, who gave the warning on Thursday in Abuja, at the Presidential Task Force (PTF) on COVID-19 press briefing, said such erring hospitals should be reported.

The minister made the remarks, while answering questions on the issue of some hospitals rejecting patients in their facilities.

Ehanire said: “It is unethical to reject patients, who come to the hospital for treatment, such offenders should be reported.

“I also want to call on all healthcare facilities not to reject persons seeking medical help, especially in an emergency situation.

“It is unethical to reject such a persons in distress.

“I also urge citizens to go to the hospitals when not feeling well, and to cooperate with medical personnel by giving accurate information, especially with regard to their travel history,” he said.

Ehanire, however, said it was possible that there was a new strain of the Coronavirus, adding that research was in progress.

According to him, the Ministry of Health is constantly reviewing the COVID-19 activities and developments, both at home and abroad, to learn more about the novel Coronavirus (COVID-19).

“We have learnt, for example, that patients are most infectious during the asymptomatic stage, and spread the virus, even, if they do not look or feel ill, or before their symptoms appear.

“We also learnt that patients with no COVID-19 symptoms may no longer be infectious after 14 days, even, if PCR tests identify RNA evidence of virus in them.

“Global experience is that up to 45 per cent of infected people may have no symptoms at all.

“In Nigeria, the proportion of confirmed cases that are symptomatic compared to asymptomatic is 39 per cent and 61 per cent, respectively.

“This means that if 10 persons are able to infect you with COVID-19, four of them will look very well indeed.

“Another three or four will have mild symptoms that can be trivialised, even by healthcare workers, which may explain the initial relatively high rate of infection among them,” he explained.

The minister said that the cheapest and easiest way to protect oneself was with a mask, adding, “in this case, a cloth mask would do”.

He said that this was why the ministry would continue to urge citizens to adhere strictly to wearing of a nose mask when outside their homes and observe other non-pharmaceutical measures.

The minister said this was so, especially now that confirmed COVID-19 cases in the country continue to rise.

Ehanire said that the ministry has no room for complacency or over-confidence, and need to be ready for any sudden shift in fortune.

He said that the ministry, through the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC), has activated additional laboratories in Akwa Ibom, Jigawa and Oyo States, bringing the total number of laboratories in the network to 33.

“More are being prepared as we work toward a target of, at least, one molecular laboratory per state. Optimisation of laboratories is ongoing in other states.

“We have commenced planning for targeted community sensitisation activities in 20 high burden Local Government Areas and workshop on Infection Prevention and Control on COVID-19 for healthcare workers in public and private hospitals in the FCT,” the minister said.

He, however, disclosed that the Ministry of Labour and Employment, Ministry of Health and the Speaker, House of Representatives have been engaging the National Association of Resident Doctors (NARD) to address the their grievances.

“We also had conversation with Ministry of Finance agencies and health-related associations, which addressed the issues of welfare and allowances to the frontline health workers.

“Complaints on non-availability of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) have been addressed with the supply of materials to states, and separately to the Federal Medical Centres.

“The disengaged resident doctors at the University of Jos Teaching Hospital have been recalled by the Board of Governors.

“I am confident that resident doctors will show understanding and reciprocate the government’s efforts on the assurance that their grievances shall be addressed,” the minister said. (NAN)