On Friday, February 5, 2016, Ahmadiyya Hospital, Ojokoro, Lagos, was reopened after 21 days of closure by Lagos state government on the grounds that the first Lassa Fever patient in the state, Ahmed Haruna was first treated at the hospital.
ENCOMIUM Weekly visited the hospital on Saturday, February 6, 2016, and we had a one-on-one encounter with the Amir (President) of Ahmadiyya Muslim Jamaat, who is also the Chairman, Board of Management of Ahmadiyya Hospital throughout Nigeria, Dr. Moshood Adenrele Fashola on the situation of the hospital during the crisis and other issues.
During the Lassa Fever crisis, Amhadiyya Hospital was shut and put under surveillance for 21 days by Lagos state government on the grounds that the first Lassa Fever index, Ahmed Haruna was first treated at the hospital before he was referred to Lagos University Teaching Hospital (LUTH), how would you describe the whole situation of things then?
Everybody knows that the symptoms of Lassa Fever will start showing just like ordinary malaria fever. It’s until it advances that you can discover it’s Lassa Fever. So, when the young man reported here, he was being treated for ordinary fever until we discovered that his situation was getting too serious. He was referred to Lagos University Teaching Hospital (LUTH), Idi Araba. It was a wonderful grace of Allah that the patient didn’t infect anybody in the hospital when it was discovered, because of the high contagiousness of the disease, they had to quarantine the people in the hospital and put them under surveillance so that the fever won’t spread to others. So, it was understandable that the hospital had to be sealed in the larger interest of the community and the country as a whole. Though the hospital may lose income, that’s nothing compared to the lives. If care was not taken, it may have spread and that would have been a disaster. The best thing was the decision to seal the hospital first.
We’re not worried that the hospital was sealed and we complied with the Lagos State Ministry of Health in respect of that. And all the patients and the hospital workers had to be strictly monitored throughout that period so that nobody would contact the fever. We cooperated with the health officials from the Ministry of Health in mentoring our staffers. And all the workers in the hospital also cooperated with us to ensure the fever didn’t spread. And we thank Allah, nothing like that happened here. They said the hospital would be closed for 21 days and reopened after no other Lassa Fever case was discovered. That’s the maturity period given us. Then, after the period elapsed and nothing of such was discovered, the hospital was reopened on Friday, February 5, 2016.
So, we’re back. We concluded that it’s Allah’s grace for the young man to have come here first and was treated without knowing he had that kind of fever and the thing didn’t spread among those in the hospital that time. If such had happened, it would have been worse. But we thank Allah that we’re fortunate that the whole thing was put under control. It’s Allah’s grace. So, to me, that’s wonderful. The young man actually started the treatment here. And now, we heard he’s responding to treatment at LUTH.
What was his situation the last time you heard from LUTH?
We were told the man has become stable which means his health is not deteriorating. So, there is hope that he will get well soon. We saw the whole thing as something miraculous and the grace of God.
How did the hospital cope within the period of its closure?
Ahmadiyya Hospitals and schools were established for humanitarian purposes, not necessarily to make money. We bill people if they can afford to pay, and those that can’t pay, we usually try to have an understanding with them because the objective of our establishing these hospitals and schools is to serve humanity.
Ahmadiyya Jamaat is a very big organiasaiton. Throughout the period, we paid the salaries of our workers. We didn’t count any loss because of the closure because in the first place, it’s not a profit making establishment. But if it’s possible we make money without stressing the people we’re servings fine, no one runs away from that. But we do that for us to expand the services.
Of course, we need to pay quality doctors and nurses, buy more equipment and even build more hospitals. So, the members contribute money to fund the whole thing, but if the hospital can make some surplus, all well and good. Nobody rejects profit, but the surplus we make is not for any investor because there is no investor.
So, all we make is used to expand our capacity to build more hospitals and schools because the Jamaat is investing in the cause of Allah. We’re happy serving humanity. We believe Allah’s reward is much more than any profit.
Within the period of the closure, if you estimate it, the hospital might have lost how much?
I’s difficult to calculate. But the bill was about N3 million. We don’t have large number of health workers. We’re not talking about the doctor in charge. He is not asking for his salary. He has also dedicated his service to humanity. He’s a very dedicated staffer of this hospital. But for the salaries of other workers, including nurses, cleaners and all that, he asked for N2 million from the Jamaat and we gave him. He will be in the best position to say how much the hospital lost during the period. We also have other doctors both on full and part time who are being remunerated by the Jamaat. We also have links with other specialist hospitals where we get expertise services from time to time. All these people were those that perhaps could have lost a lot during the crisis because they couldn’t work throughout the three weeks of closure of the hospital.
They’re only paid based on the services they render. So, these are the people that might have lost some income at that time but the hospital itself didn’t account for any loss. For us, what’s paramount is the health of the community, not money or profit. Epidemic is a dangerous thing, and we need to sacrifice everything it takes to protect the community from having epidemic.
But it was reported that the workers protested when the government ordered that the hospital should be closed and put under surveillance for 21 days, how true is that?
That’s not true. What was the protest for? May be some uninformed people like cleaners who thought their salaries might not be paid due to the closure were those that protested. Nobody protested against the closure of the hospital. They were fully paid for the whole period. The management didn’t owe them, we didn’t even deduct a kobo from their salaries.
Those of us at the management level are the ones that have the right to protest the closure of the hospital, and we didn’t do that.
For us, the decision was in the right direction because the health of the community is very paramount to us, not money. Maybe some people from afar just painted the whole scenario in a negative way.
- TADE ASIFAT