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.