Thursday?s fire incident at an outpatients? clinic for HIV patients at the Lagos University Teaching Hospital (LUTH), Idi-Araba, has forced the patients out in the open.

By Friday, the AIDS Prevention Initiative of Nigeria (APIN) clinic that once catered for the treatment and drugs of HIV patients at the hospital had been razed to the ground.

The incident consequently put pressure on the hospital?s facilities as HIV and Tuberculosis patients were moved under a canopy close to the hospital?s Direct Observation Therapy (DOT) centre, for the collection of drugs.

Normally, the hospital?s Tuberculosis patients collect drugs weekly on Fridays at the DOT centre, but the relocation of HIV patients, also scheduled for the collection of their monthly drugs, swelled up the number, thereby pushing both categories of patients for an unprecedented session out in the open.

Although the patients showed no objection to being exposed in the open and were unwilling to react to the loss of privacy, many, however, expressed surprise that the teaching hospital?s infrastructure could be stretched due to one fire incident.

?I came and noticed so many people here. I wonder what must have happened and hope that I won?t have to wait all day to get my drugs,? said a tuberculosis patient who did not wish to be named.

Earlier, the Hospital?s Public Relations Officer, Hope Nwawolo, stressed that no casualty was recorded in the fire that razed down the USAID-funded treatment and research facility.

?It?s an outpatients? clinic and there was no patient there by the time the fire started,? she said, adding that some doctors who were having a meeting in the building at the time initiated attempts to put out the fire.

She also said that the cause of the fire was yet unknown with the ?management still expecting the report of the Fire Service?.

Meanwhile, speculation is rife among the hospital staff that an electronic fault might have been responsible for the fire.

While speaking with journalists, Nwawolo insisted that the hospital management had taken measures to ensure that treatment and clinical services continue for the affected patients.

?They are still getting their drugs free of charge as we have always done and we have decided that anyone of them that needs emergency treatment will be taken to the Accident and Emergency unit,? she said.

Items that were destroyed in the building include patients? case notes, electronic gadgets and medical equipment.

However, Nwawolo assured that the hospital has the patients? data electronically backed up.

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