by Paul Agada
The average resident on the Lagos Mainland hears the word ‘Yaba Left’ quite often, and only one place comes to mind; the Federal Neuropsychiatric Hospital located at Yaba, Lagos Mainland, reputed for being home to many who need professional psychiatric help which the hospital offers.
Typically, patients found at the hospital are mentally ill persons, drug addicts and patients in need of rehabilitation. However, details emerging from an investigative report filed by a Nigerian journalist, Fisayo Soyombo reveals many anomalies thriving in the oldest psychiatric hospital in the country.
In the revelations from his report, the hospital, which is a place of recovery itself for patients needs to recover from the inefficiencies and ineptitude presently plaguing it. It brings to mind the words of the Christianity figure and a Prophet, Jesus, which says ‘Physician heal thyself’.
Here are ten takeaways from details emerging from Yaba Left investigative report.
- Yaba left is a glorified prison
Patients at the Federal Neuropsychiatric Hospital, Yaba, Lagos Mainland, perceive the place as a glorified prison, and the reason cannot be far-fetched. The quality of service delivered by staff members do not commensurate with the fee paid by patients.
According to Soyombo, the patients feel trapped in the ward; unfortunately, they cannot leave except the doctors, their parents or guardians set them free or if they can escape.
2. Corruption starts from the entrance
A phenomenon present in most government institutions is the presence of endemic corruption, and Yaba Left was not one to be any different. From the report, we figured that staff members involved themselves in dubious acts to defraud patients and prospective patients of their money. The reporter, Soyombo mentioned how the receptionists at the hospital extorted money from newly admitted patients into wards, and he never got a refund of the money paid to a worker to secure bed-space.
3. Soup is as watery as the Lagoon
Not many people would fancy the idea of having for dinner a watery Egusi and Eba filled with lumps. Well, the patients at Yaba Left have no option but savour the above mentioned, and other terrible foods served them by staff members of the psychiatric hospital.
Soyombo recounted how he found not meat, not ponmo, not fish but a local sponge in his food. Does it beg the question as to how the patients are expected to respond to treatment with such malnutrition? What makes this more controversial is the fact that patients pay a sum of N60,000 (Sixty Thousand Naira) for feeding upon admission.
4. Yaba Left is the den of fat rats!
While the main patients of the hospital suffer malnutrition, the reverse is the case for some other inhabitants of the hospital, rats. According to the report, the Neuropsychiatric hospital, particularly the kitchen, is ridden with well-fed and robust rats.
If this brings anything to mind, it should be the memory of Lassa fever. These rodents expose the patients to the deadly Lassa Fever which could be transmitted by direct contact with urine, faeces, saliva or blood of infected rats; eating food or drinking water contaminated with urine, faeces, saliva or blood of infected rats.
5. The Oshodi annexe is no go area
A drug addict patient taken to the hospital’s annex in Oshodi may just as well consider not going at all. A controversial discovery made in the report is the anomaly of a hospital parading itself as a rehabilitation centre, under the funding of the Federal Government not being able to offer its primary services.
A doctor at the main hospital in Yaba admitted in the story to the poor services offered patients at the annexe hospital. He was quoted to have said; “The issue is this: at Oshodi, you may not get the maximum benefit you need, to be sincere with you,” the doctor said. “I work here, and I know that after a while you may be frustrated because what you will be doing there is not really rehabilitation. Many of the patients at Oshodi are psychotic; they have one form of behavioural disorder or the other. The hospital’s programme for rehabilitation is not well-developed over there, so you may be there for days without seeing a psychologist.”
6. Hospital cannot take many patients
From the foregoing point, one would expect that Yaba Left would lack the capacity to take the teeming population of prospective patients that roam the streets of Lagos. We learnt from the report that the Neuropsychiatric hospital is a just 535-bed facility; while only two male wards comprising 60 bed spaces and a female ward of 30 bed spaces were wholly dedicated to drug patients. This spells doom for Nigeria, as more people have taken to drug abuse considering fears by specialists and concerned groups on the prevalence of substance abuse among youths and other age grades.
7. Bed-space is gold!
“Securing bed space at Yaba Left is so difficult that those who finally succeed are too physically and psychologically exhausted to ask too many probing questions before complying with payment instructions.” – Soyombo
It may just be safe to say the closure of a door, leads to the opening of the other. Inadequacy of bedspace and the difficulty in securing one only opened a thriving ‘business’ for officials of the hospital. They wasted no time in taking advantage of the appalling situation as they specialized in arranging bed space for under-pressure patients in exchange for a token, often at the expense of more deserving patients. All one needs to do is grease the palms of a ‘corrupt worker’ and they would do their best to get a bedspace reserved.
8. Yaba Left is home to soiled and dirty bedsheets
Another anomaly endured by patients of the hospital is having to lay on dirty bedsheets for as long as possible. It was learnt that some of the bedsheets have been in use for years and they are seldom taken to the laundry, despite it being paid for by patients.
9. Nigeria needs more Psychiatric hospitals
Like most other things in Nigeria, there is an acute shortage of Neuropsychiatric hospitals in a country that prides itself as the giant of Africa. Sad to know is the fact that Yabaleft alongside its annex in Oshodi is the only Federal Government-owned full-fledged psychiatric hospital serving the whole of Lagos, one of its biggest cities in terms of population. It is also one of only eight public psychiatric hospitals serving an estimated 200 million Nigerians. These stats become mind boggling when one considers the World Health Organisation (WHO) statement that one of every eight Nigerian suffers from a form of mental illness.
10. Popular Dundun Nation staff caught in drug smuggling
An interesting twist to the report came when Soyombo mentioned that the Chief Medical Officer banned the delivery of food to patients by unregistered persons. The ban came after a patient had allegedly smuggled marijuana into the ward through food delivered by a Dundun Nation employee.
“And, finally, roughly a week before I was admitted, the hospital banned visitors from bringing in food for patients. The ban was the consequence of an ex-patient’s bad behaviour. The patient, Ife, had tried to import marijuana into the ward, via ant, Ife, had tried to import marijuana into the ward, via a Dundu Nation employee who folded six wraps of the weed among fried yams delicately packaged in a paper and foil.”
The big question here is: Why would an employee of Dundun Nation abet the smuggling of marijuana into a psychiatric hospital. Are they part of a drug syndicate?