Widow Narrates Harrowing Experience at Hospital EFSTH PRO Responds


Ousman Sillah A widow, whose husband died recently after a brief illness, explainedEdward Francis Small Teaching Hospital the harrowing experience she went through at the Edward Francis Small Hospital in Banjul during the final moments of her spouse’s life.The grieving lady explained how her husband collapsed in their house on Monday, 23 March, and was rushed to the hospital in Bundung where she was given prescription to buy medicine from a private pharmacy near Senegambia where she spent D850. She said her husband’s blood sample was taken and a lab test conducted at this hospital. “They told me that he lacks blood and that the prescribed drugs would make him better and was later referred to Banjul to the Edward Francis Small Teaching Hospital,” she said. While at the hospital in Banjul, she explained that she was asked to do another lab test which cost her D300. She said she was also asked to conduct x-ray of the head for which she paid D300. “After this x-ray, they asked me to buy drugs which costs more than one thousand five hundred and which I did. They also asked me to do another lab test of his blood sample again at D300,” she narrated. Despite having made all these payments and given the fact that her husband was in an emergency situation, she said the most dreadful part of her agonizing experience was that her husband was left out there for hours without being given a bed. “In that confused state, I had to call one of my brothers to complain about this and he asked me to contact one of the doctors. It was this doctor who came and addressed the situation, insisting that this is an emergency that needs urgent attention. We were then given a bed,” said the widow. She further explained that after a while she was asked to go and buy pudding (“Ruye” or “Mono”) for her husband to eat and which she did. “Immediately after he finished eating, I saw him stretched his body which then became totally motionless. I called out for the hospital workers for them to see his condition and when they came they asked me to go and buy pudding again,” she explained. On her return with the food, she said, she saw the bed on which her husband was admitted being screened and that she found him wrapped. She said no one told her what had happened until after she repeatedly asked them to tell her the truth, even if he is dead. “It was then that I was told the unbelievable and shocking news that my husband is dead. I repeated “Is my husband dead?” the response again was in the positive,” she said, with tears rolling down her cheeks. She said another shocking moment was when she was asked to carry the corpse by herself to the mortuary. “How can I carry him by myself to the mortuary? I asked them. It was eventually one of the friends of my late husband who assisted me to take the corpse to the mortuary. I was also asked to pay a fee of D650 for the body to be washed and prepared and which I did,” she added. This reporter also learnt from relatives that another fee of D650 was paid to the mortuary attendants for the purpose of washing and preparing the corpse for burial. Addressing the National Assembly on 27 February 2015, President Yahya Jammeh said “Government is committed to ensuring the highest attainable standard of health. Our policy aims to ensure that all Gambians have access to well-equipped and state of the art health facilities and staff them with well trained and monitored health care workers, in addition to developing systems to support and expand health care and improved quality standards.” The National Health Policy 2012–2020 also promotes the right to health for all and indicates in its vision statement the “…Provision of quality and affordable Health Services for All By 2020. All the organs of the Government are enjoined to observe and be guided by this principle of State policy with the view of fulfilling its objective of Promoting and protecting the health of the population through the equitable provision of quality health care services.” However, the unfortunate experience of this woman, who was in a desperate situation trying to save the life of her husband, is a far cry to the attainment of these national goal and policy. Contacting the hospital Public Relation Officer (PRO) to relay the traumatising experience of this widow and to ask how to seek redress for complaints of this nature, Mr. Jammeh said a formal complaint can be made and addressed to his office. “We will look into the matter and then take any necessary action on whoever is found responsible,” said PRO Jammeh.]]>