Self-mobilized residents in the surrounding streets of the Lagos University Teaching Hospital (LUTH) blocked streets Thursday morning, allowing access for protesters and relatives of Mrs. Folake Oduyoye who died late last year while under the care of LUTH. Protesters and family claim that she died due to detention and neglect by hospital staff.
Folake Oduyoye, a young mother of four, reportedly delivered her last child at a private hospital but she was transferred to LUTH for further care. Her relatives recounted that Mrs. Folake developed post delivery complications, for which she was taken to the Teaching Hospital with the expectation to benefit from government's medical facility. She was admitted at LUTH and all treatments were said to have been conducted successfully.
Her husband, Mr. Adeyemi Oduyoye said he had met all bills with assistance from relatives and associates from his wife's fashion trade during treatment. He quoted a series of charges that ran almost into a million Naira, since her treatment commenced. After his wife was officially discharged by the hospital, he was issued another bill, spilling over N1.3million. Adeyemi recounted that he could not meet the bill, but had raised another N300,000 leaving his remaining debt with the public hospital to more than N1million.
Now exhausted, the father of a new nearly five month old baby, said he and the management of LUTH agreed that his wife would return home and he would pay the remaining bill in monthly installments. LUTH reportedly agreed, but demanded that he provided guarantors to stand for him.
Mrs. Folake, in her continued detention by hospital management, had developed other health issues with symptomatic cough. The hospital would not treat her further due to unsettled debt, nor would they let her go elsewhere. Her condition worsened.
"At this point they [hospital management] policed me everywhere, saying I might smuggle my wife out of the hospital,” Mr. Adeyemi narrated.
He said he provided the guarantors but the public hospital rejected them, asking that guarantors may only come from within the hospital.
"I slept beside her all 45 days in the hospital, watching other patients die on daily basis,” the husband declared. He said his decision to remain in the hospital with his wife all nights was necessitated by a health worker strike, as medical workers were not at work.
Finally on 13th of December, 2014, Mrs. Folake gave up as her health totally deteriorated.
"She asked me if we would go home any time soon, since she was said to be discharged a month and half ago. But that was only the last five minutes into end for her, I didn't know.
"At about 2a.m on 13th of December, she finally dropped on my lap,” Adeyemi told the assembly of sympathizers waiting at his residence with tears clouding up his eyes.
Frenzied youths in the Ogunlana neighborhood area of Surulere and Mushin, occupied streets blocking the Lagos University Teaching hospital as activists storm the hospital on Thursday.
The activists were led by Dr. Abiola Akiode, Executive Director of Women Advocacy and Research Documentation Center (WARDC), Dr. Joe Okei-Odumakin of the Women Arise Movement, and Barrister Malachy Ugwummadu a public interest lawyer.
Citing constitutional rights of freedom of movement, the activists deplored the illegal detention of Mrs. Folake until her death.
"Since they no longer would provide her care, why detain her [with her health condition] from getting help elsewhere?", Abiola Akiode demanded.
She reeled that Nigeria accounts for more than 10% of world's maternal deaths, stressing that the conditions of public hospitals are part of reason avoidable deaths occur in Nigeria.
For Joe Okei-Odumakin, it was a case of government corruption.
"This is neglect and a rip off. Where is the National Health Insurance Scheme and where are the billions earmarked for public healthcare?", Okei-Odumakin demanded.
A case for other women still being detained at the LUTH was opened as Barrister Malachy Ugwummadu assured legal action against the hospital for neglect and detention of Mrs. Folake until her last breath.
"We are invoking the Freedom of Information law and have demanded that the hospital publish the statistics of women still being held in detention over bills. We are aware that some have been held there since over a year", the protesters told journalists as they pledged to continue with the case to court.