Nigeria’s Health Sector and My Experience – Afeso Akanbi

Although I am not a stranger to the fact that Nigeria is in bad shape, I got the rudest confirmation yet of this truth today, after experiencing first hand what it meant to have a patient in one’s hands, in an emergency situation, and yet be made to wait in the merciless environment we call hospitals in Nigeria today, endlessly in a queue for hours, just to have a doctor attend to you…

It was like a scene from a war movie in which wounded soldiers were being evacuated to make shift hospital tents. Patients were not allowed into the hospital (LASUTH, Ikeja), cars and ambulances lined the entrance to the emergency section, and we were surrounded by poorly trained hospital personnel (one of them even got into a quarrel with the family member of a patient, and reacting to the frustration of the man who had a dying patient, he asked the man to ‘#***#* off’ )

we were surrounded by poorly trained hospital personnel (one of them even got into a quarrel with the family member of a patient, and… asked the man to ‘#***#* off’ @DopplerFilmz

They didn’t seem to care how critically ill most of the the patients might be, to the extent that a patient, a woman, who was talking with her children only moments before, suddenly gave up the ghost before our eyes!

In summary, I came to terms with how urgently whoever is in control of Nigeria today needs to declare a state of emergency on the health sector. Nigerian leaders should see this as an act of service, not just for Nigerians, but for themselves as well.

Credit – Doppler Films

a patient, a woman, who was talking with her children only moments before, suddenly gave up the ghost before our eyes! @DopplerFilmz

The day before had been hectic, from huge traffic to a car (though brand new) that suddenly developed a fault. Meanwhile, the patient was in pain and was having difficulty in breathing …

After running all kinds of test to the tune of almost two hundred thousand naira, and visiting about five hospitals, from Saint Ives in Ikeja through Eko Hospital to LASUTH, all of them in Nigeria’s commercial capital, we were given all manners of reasons to return home with the patient…

We’re only offering skeletal services“… “we have no bed spaces” were some of the narratives, and to confirm that, we were shown some sick patients who were made to sleep on the bare floor…

How could anyone, even doctors for that matter, turn away a sick patient who was in pain and had difficulty breathing (please take note that it is not a case of COVID-19; we have the correct diagnosis from the tests conducted) What sort of hospital does that?

I had to engage one of the doctors out of frustration, and some of the things I learnt shocked me.

Do you know that for a country with a population of over 200 million people like Nigeria, there are only 72,000 registered doctors in the country today? All the others have either emigrated or are planning to relocate abroad in search of better opportunities because of the poor working conditions here… Do you know that the rot in our health sector is mainly due to massive corruption and sadly, it is still business as usual for those in charge of Nigeria today?

Our hospitals remain grossly inadequate, poorly equipped and underfunded. Today, we have a doctor to every 6,000 Nigerian patients, in hospitals that are mere glorified First Aid centres. Yet, the World Health Organisation recommends a doctor to, a maximum of 600 patients for every country. There are even countries in the developed world with one doctor to, say, twenty or thirty patients.

Our primary health care system has collapsed. Even doctors who are patriotic enough to stay are not motivated; the problems are endless.

Despite a gross lack of basic amenities like potable water and electricity, medical supplies and equipment, we continue to see budgetary allocation by the Federal Government running into billions: where have all the funds gone?

Today, COVID-19 has put medical tourism by Nigerians who can afford to escape overseas for treatment on a lockdown. Even the president is now confined to Aso Rock, from where he now precides over the affairs of Nigeria.

As president, his vantage position saddles him with the task of providing a radical solution to this problem, which has persisted in the last six years while corruption ravages.

We don’t need to go too far down memory lane to remember how, bringing late President Umaru Yar’Adua home nearly dead from a Saudi Arabia hospital in 2010, exposed the sordid and depressing state of our health sector. The COVID-19 pandemic is another confirmation ofwhat we already know about our health sector; yet our leaders seem helpless or choose inaction.

Nigerian universities have been training doctors for years; where have all the doctors gone? 72,000 doctors for a population of over 200 million!

And because of this extreme shortage of doctors, nurses and quacks today set up their own hospitals and yet continue to get massive patronage.

It is on record in this same country, that perhaps the lives of some of the lives of top government officials lost to the pandemic, including a Chief of Staff to the president and a former governor, could have been salvaged had they been flown abroad for treatment. The list of public officials who run off abroad for treatment daily is endless.

Countless ordninary Nigerians die daily from avoidable causes. The government set up NHIS, corrupt politicans hijacked the program, and still do not cease to embezzle monies deducted from Nigerian workers for NHIS; yet we all carry on as if all is well…

Today, we have a doctor to every 6,000 Nigerian patients, in hospitals that are mere glorified First Aid centres. Yet, the World Health Organisation recommends a doctor to, a maximum of 600 patients for every country. @DopplerFilmz

A state of emergency needs to be declared on the health sector urgently; but our law makers are busy fighting NDDC and Keyamo over issues that bother on self interest and money… It is a sad discovery indeed that even the supposed head of our anti corruption agency, EFCC is in the dock for corruption himself…

When will Nigerians wake up and demand a nation that we all can be proud of? Are we leaving this for the future generation, when we are all gone, That is if even they survive?

GOD help US…


AKANBI, ALBERT AFESO



(Writer&Documentary Filmmaker)
Doppler Effect Films

An Alumnus Of The South Gate Society School Of Creative Writing, Aalborg,
Denmark.
HD Film Academy, Abuja, FCT, Nigeria.
A Participant In The RNTC Media Institute 2017 “Persuasive Storytelling” training, The
Netherlands.

Op-ed Writer In A handful Nigerian publications

Volunteer @Child Right and Rehabilitation Network, CRARN and Paulash
Community Development Initiative, PCDI.
Abuja, FCT, Nigeria

Blog: http://www.akanbiafeso.wordpress.com Web: http://www.dopplerfilmz.ng Phone: +2348066159999
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