Why Yabatech students’ protest over poor healthcare highlights a long-suppressed reaction

Students at the Yaba College of Technology (YABATECH) are threatening to raze the institution’s medical centre in an embittered response to the death of a college mate.

On the fateful day before the commencement of her exams, Dazan Charity Olubukola, a student of YABATECH, allegedly lost her life due to a practice commonly found in the Nigerian health care scene – medical staff demanding payment from patients before administering treatment and care, regardless of what their medical state might be. Apparently, the students at the college reached their breaking point and on the 10th of February, they began to protest.

According to YABATECH complainants, the final year student of Office Technology Management was rushed to the medical centre in a critical state the night before the unfortunate event, but the lack of a N35,000 admission fee caused a delay in providing her with medical attention, which was eventually responsible for her death. Reportedly, Dazan was taken to the medical centre around midnight on Tuesday the 9th and died in the early hours of Wednesday, the 10th before she could be conveyed to the Federal Medical Centre at Ebutte Metta, Yaba, Lagos for further care.

Dazan, a ‘sickler’ (sickle cell anaemic patient), had been taken to the hospital earlier that day because of a sickle cell crisis that she experienced. However, she was [inappropriately] discharged after the College Medical Centre’s management in the school deemed her stable. Since she passed away yesterday, outraged students have blocked the two entrances to the school, accusing the college’s authorities of causing her death through negligence and injustice, as displayed on placards which they carry in protest, while generally disrupting all activities on the campus and its environs.

YABATECH authorities are calling the current situation in the school a ‘ploy by the students to avoid writing their exams,’ as they had initially pleaded for a postponement because they were not prepared. But in reality, even as the school unintentionally reiterates, postponement of exams are less likely to occur than the encounters that the students have with their medical facilities.

The students at YABATECH pay N3,000 in medical fees for every session, but lament that the payment is not reflected in the level of medical care that they receive. According to reports, they are still required to pay for their own drugs whenever they need it. One of the students protesting laments that they are generally victims of delayed and shabby medical attention, as she recounts the incidence where one of her roommates, who sustained injuries from a hot water burn, was given just Paracetamol after three hours of waiting.

One is not spared of the ill-treatment even in death, as Dazan’s body allegedly did not receive adequate cleaning and care before she was buried at the Atan Cemetary in Yaba yesterday.

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