Five months have elapsed since a tragic elevator accident at the General Hospital, Odan Lagos, claimed the life of House Officer Dr. Vwaere Diaso, yet the elevator remains unreplaced. The PUNCH learned that the fatal incident, which saw the elevator plummet from the 10th floor, occurred in a hospital with a history of 131 years. During a visit to the accident site in August 2023, colleagues of the late doctor expressed concerns about the elevator’s longstanding maintenance issues, citing frequent malfunctions.
Further investigations revealed that Dr Diaso was trapped in the wreckage for an hour before receiving medical attention, contrary to initial reports of immediate death. In response, the Lagos State Government dismissed and blacklisted the facility’s managers and suspended Adenike Adekanbi, the General Manager of Lagos State Infrastructure and Asset Management Agency.
Following the burial of Dr. Diaso, Lagos State Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu visited the hospital, promising improvements after discussions with the house officers. However, a recent visit to the hospital’s 10-story doctors’ residence showed that the elevator’s replacement is still pending, forcing doctors to use the stairs. The site of the former elevator is now sealed off with construction boards and warning signs.
Despite assurances from Gbenga Omotoso, the state’s Commissioner for Information and Strategy, and Olusegun Ogboye, Permanent Secretary for the Ministry of Health, about the contract for elevator replacement and building renovation, no visible signs of commencement were observed during the latest inspection of the premises.
The tragic incident at the General Hospital, Odan Lagos, where an elevator failure led to the untimely death of Dr. Vwaere Diaso, raises critical questions about the state of healthcare infrastructure in Nigeria. As concerned citizens and observers, we must scrutinize the systemic issues that allowed such a preventable tragedy. The elevator’s malfunction was not an isolated incident but a symptom of broader neglect and underinvestment in essential public services.
The government’s response, while necessary, seems more reactive than proactive. Dismissing and blacklisting those responsible is a step towards accountability, but it does not address the root cause of the problem – the chronic underfunding and mismanagement of public health facilities. Even after such a catastrophic event, the delay in replacing the elevator speaks volumes about the bureaucratic inertia plaguing our public institutions.
We must advocate for a more robust and proactive approach to infrastructure maintenance, especially in critical sectors like healthcare. The safety of healthcare professionals and patients should be a top priority, and this incident should serve as a wake-up call. Let us not wait for another tragedy to spur action. The time for comprehensive reform and investment in our healthcare infrastructure is now.
Did You Know?
- The General Hospital, Odan Lagos, is one of the oldest healthcare facilities in Nigeria, with a history spanning over 130 years.
- Elevator accidents in hospitals are relatively rare globally, but when they occur, they often lead to significant safety reviews and policy changes.
- Lagos State, Nigeria’s most populous city, has a complex healthcare system that caters to millions, making infrastructure maintenance a critical challenge.
- The average response time for emergency services in Lagos is significantly longer than in many other major cities, underscoring the importance of in-hospital safety measures.
- Nigeria’s healthcare system faces a chronic shortage of healthcare professionals, with many Nigerian doctors seeking opportunities abroad due to better working conditions and infrastructure.