Gasping For Air: Doctor’s Death Exposes Inherent Risks Of Nigerian Public Hospitals

By Dr. Ifeanyi Nsofor and Patience Adejo (Lead Writers)

Editor’s Note: On the 19th of June, 2018, headlines of Nigerian newspapers carried a shocking piece about the demise of a Kogi Doctor. Realising that there must be more to this, the Nigeria Health Watch team headed out to Lokoja to find out more. While we cannot bring Dr. Rosemary Chukwudebe back to life, she must not die in vain.

How can the Kogi state government ensure that her death counts, and more people do not die in such circumstances? Photo credit: Nigeria Health Watch

The late Dr. Rosemary Chukwudebe, 42, was the Head of the Internal Medicine Department at the Kogi State Specialist Hospital (KSSH) in Lokoja. She was a graduate of the University of Benin, a caring wife and mother to three beautiful young children. Known as a dedicated doctor who worked tirelessly, she would often continue attending to her patients when doctors were on strike, saying that “Two people cannot be mad at the same time”, referring to the Kogi State government and the medical trade unions who have “normalised” strikes as the method of agreeing appropriate remuneration levels in the public health sector in Nigeria. Dr. Rosemary Chukwudebe was an exemplary doctor, the type every patient would love to meet when they are most vulnerable.

Despite her deep dedication to duty and commitment to her patients, Rosemary, unfortunately, died in the same hospital where she worked, in the same department she headed. The Kogi State Specialist Hospital, the Nigerian health system and the government failed her. Today, her family is still struggling to come to terms with her death.