This might give you some headache: the clinic at Nigeria’s seat of power does not have the commonest of medications, paracetamol, TheCable has learnt.
And cotton wool? The patient has to buy from outside. Syringes? Not available. X-ray? Sorry, the machine is out of order. Ambulance? Well, if the patient can buy the fuel.
This is the sorry story of the State House Medical Centre, better known as “Aso Villa Clinic” — for which over N3 billion was budgeted in 2016 and N331 million in 2017.
The facility was established to cater to the medical needs of the president, the vice president, their families and presidential aides. It is supposed to be the first port of call in the case of a health emergency.
According to information on the state house website, the medical centre is also a training facility for house officers and other medical personnel.
The centre functions through specialised departments: peadiatrics, lab medicine, medicine, and obstetric and gyneacology.
President Muhammadu Buhari is currently in the UK where he is receiving medical treatment for an undisclosed ailment.
The BBC listed him as one of the African presidents who have “apparent lack of faith in the health systems at home”.
Despite the inadequacies, TheCable understands that patients still get good consultations at Aso Villa Clinic.
RENOVATION WITHOUT MEDICATION
“Patients buy syringes and common drugs like paracetamol are lacking. They are also required to fuel an ambulance in the case of an emergency,” an outpatient said.
“Patients admitted in the clinic buy all prescribed drugs from outside the facility. And in all the wards whether dental or surgical they are required to get the material for their treatment, even cotton wool.”
The management is currently renovating some buildings and constructing a new block at the facility, but patients have to go to other hospitals if they want to have an X-ray done.
When called for comment, Femi Adesina, presidential spokesman, referred TheCable to Laolu Akande, media aide to the acting president, but calls to his mobile line did not go through.
Calls and text messages to the mobile line of Jalal Arabi, the state house permanent secretary, were also not replied.
‘CENTRE OF EXCELLENCE’
Defending the N3.219 billion earmarked for the medical centre in the 2016 budget, Arabi had told a senate committee that the proposals included the completion of ongoing work as well as procurement of drugs and other medical equipment.
“The medical centre provides health care treatment for the president and vice-president, their families as well as numerous civil servants working in the state house and across the ministries, departments and agencies of government and of course, with due respect, including parliamentarians and members of the legislature in addition to other notable dignitaries,” he said.
“Interestingly, Mr. Chairman, on a lighter note, not only those that have been captured here attend (the medical centre) there are poor of the poorest that attend because we receive reference from Gwagwalada, Garki, Wuse hospitals.
“So, if they come, we attend to them and interestingly too at no fee at all, we don’t charge.
“The anticipated improvement of the medical centre will propel it to serve as a centre of excellence and also reduce medical tourism.”
Centre of excellence? To the patients, that may be a sickening description.