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Ordeals At Government Hospitals 

By Juliet Efufa Veseke*

Being sick is a problem. The bigger problem, however, seems getting easy access to treatment, especially in Cameroon.  Besides being the place for giving relief to patients suffering from various ailments, hospitals are also supposed to be places where the sick can get hope. This, unfortunately, is not the case with most hospitals in the country, especially Government ones.

Buea Regional Hospital Annex

Incessant complaints from patients about poor treatment in hospitals pushed The Post to investigate the treatment of patients at Government and private hospitals. A recent incident, in which two gendarmerie officers brutalised a medical doctor at the Buea Regional Hospital Annex, following the death of their relation, raised questions about treatment meted on patients by hospital personnel.

Also, many have recounted the ordeal patients undergo before they are finally administered medications. Your reporter spent a day each in two separate hospitals. The disparities in reception of patients, assiduity of staff, time spent to see the doctor etc, lends credence to the notion that it is easier to get access to treatment in private than Government hospitals.

At a Buea-based public hospital recently, the process from consultation through laboratory tests to acquisition of drugs was rather long and tedious. The queues were long and time spent waiting for nurses to call in the next patient was also long. Many patients waited endlessly to see doctors, with some giving up in frustration.

Considering that public health facilities do not match the growing population in the Southwest Region, enormous pressure is brought to bear on the available doctors in the hospitals. Some patients go through hell during the waiting process, with many showing signs of weakness and dozing off on an average chilly Buea day. Most of the patients also complained that the process of carrying out laboratory tests was very slow.

Mrs. Evelyn Mbeng, told The Post, “I made a test three days ago but the result is still not ready. Will a patient suffer and die even when she has money? One is unable to buy drugs because the doctor cannot prescribe without his/her laboratory result.” In fairness to the hospital, even when the officials do their best, the population size makes nonsense of their efforts.

At a private hospital, the situation is different. Here, services are faster and less stressful for patients. They consult and return home when those who went to a Government hospital at the same time with them are still in the consultation queue. The patients are comfortable in case of admission as they get full attention and privacy in their wards. It is, nonetheless, difficult to tell if the treatment here would have been the same if the private facility received large numbers of patients as Government hospitals do.

Government hospitals sometimes have about seven patients in a ward because of the population. Unlike the private hospitals where the patients are few, the Government institution is bound to crowd patients with sometimes different illnesses into a single ward in order to attend to them.

People condemn nurses in government hospitals saying they are arrogant in contrast to those in the private hospitals .This is in contrast to what The Post witnessed on the day your reporter visited this institution. The nurses were friendly.

On the whole, it is difficult to draw a line and state which of the two is more effective. However, mission hospitals, which are categorised under private hospitals, have been generally believed to be more organised and better run. While many extol the virtues of private health facilities, they are also limited in facilities and trained personnel.
 

*(UB Journalism Student On Internship)

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