NIGERIA: Shoddy private health centres closed down
LAGOS, 29 April 2008 (IRIN) - The Lagos State government has shut down 184 private hospitals, clinics and laboratories for failing to meet basic standards of hygiene and staff training in a move observers say is a much-needed push to improve the regulation of the state’s healthcare system.
“Corruption, mismanagement and poor leadership are the main problems of the health system in Nigeria,” said independent health consultant, Dr Tarry Asoka. “These have been recognized by the Lagos State government which is… tackling these issues through a reform process of which regulating the private sector is a key initiative.”
The private facilities, which hold an estimated 1,000 hospital beds and represent 7 percent of the all the 2,629 health facilities monitored by government officials in Lagos State, were shut down between March 2007 and March 2008, according to Lagos State health commissioner Dr Jide Idris.
“Some 60 percent of the facilities surveyed were found to be substandard,” Idris said.
According to the government, patients from the closed facilities were transferred or referred to other hospitals and health centres nearby.
Eight private mortuaries in the state were also found to be providing inadequate services, the state commissioner added.
Asoka, the consultant, said that the problem for the over 10 million residents of the state is not the quantity of health facilities but their quality. “Lagos is well supplied by health facilities, therefore physical access is not a barrier,” he said.
But Dr Bodet Tawak, a medical officer in charge of a private clinic, said people in Lagos State depend increasingly on private clinics due to a decline in the standards of the public health system.
“The influx of people to my clinic has increased recently as some of the patients are not getting the attention they need from government hospitals,” he said.
The Lagos state government says it has developed a four-year infrastructure development plan for secondary health care.
“We are going to construct five 100-bed maternal and child health complexes [in the grounds of already existing hospitals],” Idris pledged.
The Lagos health commissioner said five general hospitals had already been rehabilitated.
In another survey, the Drug Quality Control Laboratory analysed 813 samples of drugs and related products in 258 private and public pharmacies, and found that 15 percent of them were defective.