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Mpempe died out of poor health care service – by Onwumere


If only Nigerian health insurance scheme had ensured that every Nigerian has access to good health care services, protect Nigerians from the financial…

As I’m leaving for work in the morning of August 16 2016, I see the woman near the fire, shivering. She is ill. 

She tells me that her little daughter, Mpempe, of say 3 or 4 years old, is also ill.

I erroneously call the child, Pempe, and it glues. 

Anytime I’m passing their house and see her, I will pet her, shouting, “Pempe!” She will run inside their room, complaining to the mother, “Oga has called me Pempe.”

The mother tells me of how her daughter feels by my call, anytime I see her in front of their cemented mud house.

The lively husband is more or less doing nothing. They eat from hand to mouth. 

The woman makes sure that her family and she are happy; always going or coming from the farm with either firewood or loads of cassava or something.

I tell her that I shall see to their health problem when I am back. We joke and laugh, as usual. But as I’m leaving, I tell her that I was down about a month ago.

The hospital was only giving me drugs anytime that I went there.

If not for one woman that advised I should drink water squeezed out of scent leaf and vegetable, I would have died.

I didn’t know that the drugs had sucked and sacked my blood. 

So, I was suffering from loss of blood, while the hospital continued to give me drugs for treatment. I advise her to be taking same with her children, since we are facing hunger in the country.

At the office, I am calculating how much money to give to her while coming back, only to be informed by a neighbor close to my house that Pempe has died.

My worry now is that I saw the girl playing and laughing a day before her death and as usual, I called her Pempe.

My worry stems to the fact that there are many Pempes out there, dying of preventable deaths. 

My worry is not that I’m related to this family by blood, but since I relocated to this remote village, due to the increasing noise in the city I detest with my life, they have shown me likeness that I cannot express just in words.

They were not ignorant of what to do to save their child.

When I interviewed the woman, she said that the family did their best by going to the patent medicine store, where they do go to whenever any of them is ill, because they cannot afford going to the hospital, with mountainous bills that patients encounter at the hospitals across the country.

Within me, I thought that if the national healthcare does not only exist on the pages of the newspapers, perhaps, Pempe would have been alive. 

I’m not happy that we are so given over to carelessness in Nigeria.

The lives of the living seem nothing to the leaders and death, seems nothing to the living. We are living in an era when deaths are celebrated than mourned.

The woman is not even properly sound, but what can she do. She has not left her motherly chores, because she has no one to help her do them. 

I see the mourning of her child written all over her since then, even though she is not crying every day.

I know that in her closet, she must be crying, but pretends in the open that all is well. 

She cannot leave the death of her daughter behind her in a country where government’s overconfidence has bred a lot of carelessness.

Pempe’s death has caused me to ask about the provision of health care in Nigeria which we were told, remains the functions of the three tiers of government: The federal, state, and local government.

I am yet to see the primary health care system being managed by the 774 local government areas (LGAs), as was speculated.

If there has been anything like that, there is little or no support that the locals are getting from their respective state ministries of health as well as private medical practitioners. 

If the primary health care was functional at the village, district, and LGA, Pempe could not have died.

If the country is yet to function optimally in the primary healthcare delivery, the secondary health care system being titular and managed by the ministry of health at the state level is balderdash.

I wonder how patients who have not seen the primary healthcare function would be referred to the secondary healthcare as the case was programmed. 

I laugh when I hear that the state primary health care comprises laboratory and diagnostic services, rehabilitation, and others. I just laugh.

If the primary and secondary healthcare systems are for the marines, then the tertiary primary health care which is said to be provided by teaching hospitals and specialist hospitals is a sorry tale.

A government that is gasping for the breath cannot work with voluntary and nongovernmental organizations, as well as private practitioners, at the level of tertiary healthcare system.

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