Saturday, June 24, 2023

A TIME NOT TO BE SICK, by Tope Adaramola

When the then Brigadier Sanni Abacha, in justification of the 1983 military coup that overthrew the civilian government of Alhaji Shehu Shagari  described the country’s hospitals condescendingly as “mere consulting clinics” many jeered at his submission and those of his fellow jackboots for over exaggeration or for literally calling the dog a bad name  in order to establish a locus to hang it. We never knew that the dark goggled martial man who later became Nigeria’s imperial military ruler was wearing the garb of a prophet. Many years down the line now, his submission could be likened to the prognosis from a philosopher of a prophet. 

To say that all is well with our hospitals or medical institutions today is to hide or pretend about the obvious, little thanks to years of successive neglect of that critical sector, partly due to indiscretion of our past leaders and corruption. In the order of human survival, heath is one of the topmost in the line of priority, because it takes a healthy individual to contribute to the growth of the family, which is the smallest societal set, as well as the nation at large. It is often said that heath is wealth. Little wonder most advanced countries pay all required attention to heath care of all their citizens from cradle to grave, regardless of their position or station in the society.

A visit to many hospitals today leaves one distressed about how cheep life has become in this clime. The surging crowd of those seeking medical care is far more in deep magnitude compared to heart care professionals on ground to succour them. Where the medical personnel are even on ground, the equipments either antiquated or are not readily available and they, as humans, are fatigued and expectedly left with no choice than to be edgy and unfriendly. I recall with great sorrow losing a close friend of mine some years back. He had been wrongly diagnosed in a public hospital, meaning that all medications being administered on him were dissonant to his real ailment. The sickness got worse and we had to move him to a tertiary hospital in Abeokuta. Just about a week into his admission, there was a national strike by Doctors and hospital workers, following which he was discharged hurriedly, despite his worsening health condition. By the time the hospital doors were opened again his ailment had reached a hilt. To cut the long story, we lost him due to what was referred to as “total systems breakdown”. Naturally, he wouldn’t have been a candidate of such early death if our medical system was upright. This sordid case typifies what many go through when they need medical attention in Nigeria. Research indicates that today we have less than 35 Doctors to 30,000 patients, depending on the region of the country, falling gravely short of expectations of the World Health Organization. Even the private hospitals, majorly owned by professionals concurrently employed by government are not better. The surge and inability to get the best care in government hospitals is putting severe pressure on them too. Despite the huge expenditure that is needed to patronize those clinics by individuals, the same bug that is bitting the government hospitals have become their lot. 

My personal experience recently tells me that we must all at this time take every precaution to be healthy and reduce the risk of indisposition. In the course of fixing a fractured ankle, I met a young medical doctor, with whom I had a heart to heart conversation. He was frank to tell me “Oga, do you think there is any good Doctor remaining in Nigeria again”?  He retorted further” we that are here are just marking time waiting for auspicious time to go to where we would be most needed and commensurately rewarded”! Even though I knew what he was saying in reference to the “Japa syndrome”, I quipped that this was coming from a young medic that ordinarily should be a hope in our medical sector. Where do we go from here, I asked myself? Self preservation has to be given its primacy in our daily endeavours. In the pain of the cast on my leg I started musing to myself that henceforward I must live right. Avoid habits and ventures that could predispose me to ill-health. Eat well, sleep well, watch my habits and eschew living styles that may bring hurtful results to my heath as I advance in years. I need to constantly ensure a perfect synergy and well being of my soul, body and spirit. At least if the government, which has the bounding responsibility to aid my well being is utterly lax or negligent in its duties, I owe myself a duty of care first and I hand over the rest to the Almighty creator who maintains our being and determines the borders of our habitation in life. 

I keep musing to myself “ this is not really the best time to be ill in Nigeria”!

Tope Adaramola

is a Chartered Insurer and PR practitioner 

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