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The plight of the Nigerian doctor [II] – by Paul John

The plight of the Nigerian doctor [II] – by Paul John

In the first part of this series, I enumerated some of the problems limiting the functions of the medical doctors practising in Nigeria.

I was supposed to suggest ways on how to reduce the plights of the Nigerian doctor but time could not permit me, due to the ongoing campaign for the change of leadership at our NMA state level nationwide.

However, my regular readers have pleaded with me to complete the previous article by suggesting the ways by which the Nigerian doctors can perform optimally, hence the need for this series .

First, if Nigerian doctors should be compared with their counterparts in USA, UK etc , let the working conditions obtainable over there be brought down  to Nigeria .

This involves procuring state of the art medical equipment in our hospitals and making funds available for their maintenance so that it will not be like the vehicles that are constantly being donated to the Nigeria police without making any provision for their fuelling and maintenance ,hence ‘roger’ will fill in the gap. 

This is because ,you cannot compare countries where Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI), computed Tomography(CT) scans and other modern diagnostic procedures  are common and affordable ,with Nigeria where such procedures are still an  exclusive preserve of the rich . 

When late Nelson Mandela was sick ,he was admitted and managed  in a South African hospital  until he gave up the ghost because they had the required medical equipment and the trained manpower but in Nigeria , common ear infection of Mr president was a reason for international referral ,ridiculing our own  Ear, Nose and Throat(ENT) surgeons.

Why should our leaders and politicians go to our hospitals when they are aware of the way they have mismanaged our hospitals through their policies and legislations? 

There should be a legislation barring all government officials from seeking medical treatment abroad . 

We were told that president’s personal physician authorised such medical tourism , but we were not told if such authorisation was done under duress or  for the physician to save his job because as Dr Osahon Enabulele, the current vice president of the  Commonwealth Medical Association , described such medical tourism as a mockery of the change mantra of Buhari’s administration and that of professional competence of the Nigerian doctors .

Imagine what would have happened in the secret if Mr president had directed his personal physician to give him a referral note for the medical tourism abroad and the physician refused .

The next day, we might have heard that his personal physician had been fired or better still, the personal physician might  be given the grace to honorably resign . 

All I am saying is that , our government officials should start patronising our hospitals so that during their regular visits, they will see for themselves  how the hospitals are  being managed and our challenges .

By regularly visiting our hospitals , the government officials will witness how during our clinic days ,each doctor is meant to see at least one hundred patients in poorly ventilated and dim consulting  rooms .

At that point , it will be clear that the Nigerian doctor to patient ratio is about 1: 6000. 

A recent study done in Gulf Medical University placed Cuba first as a country with the best doctor-patient ratio of 1:170 while ten percent of its annual budget is on health .

USA and Great Britain have theirs as 1:390 and 1:440 respectively .

I went to campaign to some of my colleagues in a clinic  about my own candidacy , I pitied them when I saw the number of patients out there waiting for my few colleagues to see them  .

One of my colleagues jeered at me as thus ,’Dr Paul John, did you see the number of people at the crusade ground out there ,so drop your flyers and leave ?’ 

At that point , I felt it a moral obligation to sit down and help them with pro bono  medical consultation because it was clear that with the 30 to 45 minutes allocated for each patient , those my few colleagues would definitely not see all patients that day.

That is how it is all over Nigeria and Nigerians cannot ask their leaders why are there few doctors in our government hospitals.

Next time anybody wants to make comparisons , many factors should be considered before making such comparisons  as it is only in Nigeria where a doctor is meant to see an average of  100 patients in a day in  poorly ventilated and dimly illuminated consulting rooms  and still maintains his/her efficiency. 

We talk of shortage of manpower in our health sector when there are about 98% of unemployed medical doctors tramping from one private hospital to another in search of jobs. 

When I was in the medical school, I thought shortage of manpower meant the number of doctors available for employment were few hence we had to study our books to come and increase the number of the medical personnel .

But when I went into full practice I discovered that the shortage of manpower meant that although there were doctors looking for jobs, our government hospitals have refused to employ more medical doctors.

Not because  there were no spaces in the hospitals.

But because our leaders have refused to release funds for such exercise hence the few ones already in the employment were meant to do the work meant for many doctors . 

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