|Mr Celestine getting free physiotherapy at home|
While Religious organizations have been associated with taking care of the spiritual needs of people, they still go an extra mile in ensuring the general well-being and health of its members. The Catholic Church for instance dedicates the 11th of February every year to pray for and take care of her sick members.
While empathy and attitude of people around can help improve the health of a sick person, it is still important for the church to go an extra mile by making use of its influence in the society to advocate for better policies needed to sustain the Nigerian healthcare system and save more lives.
I had the opportunity of learning about the case of Mr Celestine Chima who has been lying down since the 10th of February, 2014 after he an accident in Owerri, Imo State of Nigeria. He is middle aged and married with two young children, a boy and a girl. He was an artisan
until his unfortunate accident.
Since his accident, it has been a tale of woes largely due to the poor healthcare system in the country. Since his hospitalization, he has witnessed two industrial actions, first by the association of resident doctors, secondly by Johesu. The Johesu strike had a more detrimental effect on his recuperation.
When he had the accident, he had brain and spinal cord injury. This resulted in paralysis of both limbs. Consequently, he couldn’t move around and had to lie on his bed every minute of the day. A very grueling situation. Everything had to be done for him even chasing flies away from his face. He was also fixed with a catheter to enable him pass urine. He soon developed bed sore which posed another serious problem and threat to his life.He was admitted again at the Federal Medical Center Owerri and after a while, his doctors decided to conduct a skin graft procedure to enable his wound heal faster. This procedure was aborted as soon as Johesu commenced their strike. He was sent home to continue in his suffering.
While at the hospital, he was lying on a special bed that allowed air to get to the part of his body where he had a bed sore. All this changed as soon as he got home. The usual family mattress didn’t allow air circulate round his body and get to his wound, his room had very poor ventilation so he was constantly feeling very hot in and outside of his body. The physiotherapy services he needed to aid his paralyzed limbs was not forth coming since he couldn’t afford home care.
He said a physiotherapist initially came to see after his discharge but stopped coming after a while. So he was left with his wife and his two kids who tried their best to keep him comfortable.
Some relatives who tried to assist him to obtain the special bed got an air bed but it didn’t help his situation because they were not given the original product.
Another friend who is a Medical Laboratory Scientist helped him bring his colleagues, a nurse and a physiotherapist who came to his house to assist him. They did all they could to help him but he still needed to get a special water bed to help his deteriorating wounds to start healing again and to enable him go for the skin graft procedure.
The situation is a very sad one and indeed needs the help and goodwill of individuals to enable him survive. He is still very hopeful that he can survive the accident and walk with his legs again.
“I always have dreams where I see myself walking without assistance and doing my job” he said.
There are many Nigerians who are also in this situation with no one to speak on their behalf. Governments and agencies should be held responsible for some of these failures and lots of preventable deaths recorded in Nigerian public hospitals. Until people are being held accountable, the situation will continue to deteriorate. Professional bodies in the health sector should also reduce the unnecessary rivalries and apply more empathy in the discharge of their duties.