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Abagena Attack: The Ups, Downs Of Hospitalised Victims In Benue Teaching Hospital

In Benue State University Teaching Hospital (BSUTH), North-central Nigeria, attack victims groan for lack of care; their dilemma persists.

At Benue State University Teaching Hospital’s (BSUTH) male surgical ward, Utim Clement lies badly injured from a gunshot wound around his lower abdomen. He, like many other victims of incessant attacks in Guma Local Government Area (LGA) of Benue State, North-central Nigeria, has been in the hospital for over a month.

In April, 17 persons were reported to have been killed in Mbayer-Yandev Council Ward of Guma LGA. Another seven were killed and 12 injured in Abagena Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) camp in Makurdi LGA. 

The patients

Today, victims remain without proper care at BSUTH where they are asked to purchase drugs or stay untreated. But many, in their condition, do not have the money to meet such demands, HumAngle gathered. 

“When the Deputy Governor of Benue State, Engr. Benson Abounu, visited us in the capacity of the state government, he gave me N10,000 and promised to pay the hospital immediately after the treatment. The money is for my upkeep,” Clement said.

But the patients have been in the hospital for over a month. 

Saanmyomyom, 16, looked pale and emaciated with bandages all over his body. He was attacked around his shoulders with a cutlass. He is unable to walk properly.

“I am satisfied with the treatment but there is one thing, my bone at the left shoulder was not attended to,” he said. “It was said that a bone specialist will come to treat me but since he came a week ago, nothing has been done about it.”

The teenage patient went further to add that they are confused about what was going on. “It looks like they are talking about money,”  Saanmyomyom explained. But when they were hospitalised, they were given a service rendered form which gives them access to treatment at the hospital. 

“Now it looks like special treatment is not part of it because all of us (attack victims) who need surgery have not been attended to. Even with the Service rendered form, sometimes medications are not free. We have been here since April 15,” he added.

Patrick is not one of the victims from Abagana IDP camp but a native of Adaye In Guma LGA where two people were killed and he was wounded. He was at the hospital when the Deputy Governor visited the victims of the attack but was left out of the N10,000 given to others.

“The Deputy Governor promised to return to us with the same amount for feeding but we have not seen him till now.  The people that gave us service rendered form are not from the government. The form carries the logo of Red Cross Society of Nigeria,” Patrick said and added that although he has not paid his bill, he has been receiving treatment. 

Abigwa Ternenge, 18, was attacked at Iortyom village around Daudu in Guma LGA. He has a head wound from a machete and another on the head from a bullet. He too has not received any form of government support.

“The deputy governor promised to return, but he has not fulfilled it,” Ternenge  said.

Ternenge’s parents have spent a lot of money, their son said. They are now in debt due to expenses incurred. Currently, some of his medications are delayed because of lack of funds.

Some respond to treatment

At the female surgical ward, Mr Clement Terzungwe, the registered  orthopedic nurse on duty said patients are responding well to treatment.

Mr Terzungwe pointed out that he is unaware of how the bills of patients are met and said he assumed the state government gave the go-ahead for their treatment. 

“Majorly, the International Red Cross Organization contributed immensely to their treatments. Other notable NGOs that collaborate with them are Medecins Sans Frontiers (MSF), also known as Doctors Without Borders,” Terzungwe said.

One of the hospitalised victims. Photo Credit: Jairus Awo/HumAngle

“There are about two patients left at the female surgical ward. Others were discharged,” he said. 

But, “I am yet to ascertain the health of those discharged,” Clement Mken whose mother is one of those receiving treatment at the hospital told HumAngle. He pointed out that he was working out modalities to make sure his mother is discharged so he could take care of her by himself. 

Two of the women yet to be discharged in the surgical ward were attacked at Abagena IDP camp. Iorya Kwaza’s breast was stitched and she said “I have been treated well. I am better than the way I came.” But her wounds looked undressed. 

Kwaza’s x-ray result showed that she needs orthopedic surgery, 

“She is not being operated upon because the wound is too much and there is a need to treat them before surgery,” Mr Terzungwe said.

The one challenge Kwaza faces is how to feed. When it comes to her treatment, she is unaware about how her bills are settled. The same is the case with Gbange Jane, Kwaza’s ward mate.

Geoffrey Abagu, a general nurse with the hospital and a member of the MSF explained that the International Community of the Red Cross Society is responsible for the patients. This is because the ICRC has a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with the hospital and gave the attack victims service rendered forms so they could access medication.

“Two NGOs are working with the hospital under MoU. They are ICRC and MSF, particularly concerning those attacked. I can’t really tell how the bills are shared between them but I am sure the feeding of some of them is sponsored by the Red Cross,” Abagu said.

So far, there is no evidence to prove that there is state government intervention as regards the victims attacked in recent times.

When HumAngle contacted the Abagene IDP camp chairman by phone concerning the fate of victims, he said people have started leaving the camp due to insecurity.

“For the relatives of those killed, their wives and children have left the camp to a place we don’t know,” he said.

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