By Dr Paul John, firstname.lastname@example.org,08083658038
I will start by thanking those that took Yusuf Buhari to a private hospital located within the shores of this country, at least that move has assured us that foreign medical tourism will soon be a thing of the past, but the question I will not fail to ask is,why the choice of a private hospital when there are uncountable number of government owned hospitals in Abuja. This is important because an Igbo adage says ,Onye choro iri awo ya rie nke kara aka,he who wants to eat a frog should eat the mature ones . Can’t you smell a rat when a cook refuses to taste or eat the food she cooks? Every Wednesday, the members of our Federal Executive Council (FEC) will sit to formulate policies for the country and policies for our Ministry of Health and its affiliates are not an exception. How can you formulate policies you will not be ready to experiment with your son or any of your relatives? I have said it time without number; no saner country anywhere in the world practises the system of health we currently practise in Nigeria.
Travel outside the country, the best hospitals there are privately owned or better owned by the Missions, then compare it with what we have here, the biggest ( though not the best) hospitals in this part of the globe are owned by the government. Although the hospital Mr President himself was treated in London was shrouded in secrecy, I will not mince words to tell Nigerians that it must be a private hospital and not a government hospital. When good spirited citizens like me called for privatization of our health sector , the ‘Sanballaths and Tobiahs’ technically called the cabals in the health sector gave reasons why our health sector should not be privatized . Their major reason for opposing the privatization of our health sector was that such move would increase the cost of hospital bills to Nigerians . That reason is highly specious.
I will always refer them to what happened and is still happening in our Telecommunication industry. When Nigerian Telecommunication Limited ( NITEL) monopolized our Telecommunication industry, they were worshiped and revered. A customer would have to kowtow or pay obeisance to them before a new line would be installed for him or his old and faulty line fixed. They were exalted above all citizens, the fear of NITEL and their workers was the beginning of wisdom. However, Olusegun Obasanjo’s government clipped their wings and went ahead against all odds to privatize our Telecommunication industry .Today a poor Nigerian can have more than five cell phones with sim cards of different GSM networks.Now, I can call my old ones from any part of the world and connect to them .When one GSM network messes up, I can try another one. I always ask those opposing privatization of our health sector to tell me if it is not cheaper and easier now to buy and operate a cell phone than having the primitive NITEL line fixed for you in those days?
The ‘cabals’ opposing privatization of our health sector are not doing it because they love the patients but because of their selfish reasons. They are aware that once the health sector is privatized, their inordinate ambitions in the health sector will die a natural death. No worker will leave his duty post for an unnecessary unionism. Go to the private hospital where Yusuf Buhari was treated,no healthcare worker there was fighting to oust the medical director from office in order to occupy his position .The security man there knows that his work is to man the gate hence he is not a member of anti-medical doctors amorphous union. Other health workers in the private hospital know the limits of their roles hence the Cleaner and porters there did not drag the management of the hospital to court for the court to declare them as consultants because they want to answer consultants like medical doctors without realizing that the hood does not make a monk. No pending case in any court instituted by any of the workers or a group of workers in that private hospital against the hospital hence time and attention for hospital business were not divided.
There was a unidirectional flow of command. The medical director, who is a medical doctor, along with other members of his management team formulates policies that will be feasible and easily executed based on what is on ground. They are not like our lawmakers who rarely patronize our Nigerian health institutions but will always enact laws that will govern our health institutions. The recent being The Compulsory Treatment and Care for victims of Gunshot Act that was passed by our legislators and signed into law by Mr President where hospitals including our private hospitals that the government does not know that they exist ,will use their facility and other hospital consumables and drugs to treat the gunshot victims with nobody in sight to offset the hospital bills incurred in the process . More painful and worrisome is the fact that the drafters of the Act still expect the hospital ( including the private hospitals) to inform the police within two hours of admitting such patient .Who pays for the additional transport expenses that will be incurred in the course of informing the police assuming the gunshot victim is rushed to a private hospital ? Can somebody make an Entry in our police station free of charge? That and many more will be treated when my next article on The flaws of The Treatment and Care for Victims of Gunshot Act will be published shortly.
The National Assembly
That private hospital where Yusuf Buhari was treated never had any episode of strike hence the ugly incident we normally experience in our public hospitals was averted. In our government owned hospitals,the surgical team will be preparing a patient for a major surgery and when the patient is adjudged clinically fit to withstand the surgery, one group in the health sector will embark on a strike to press home their inordinate ambition of wresting power from the doctors in the health sector and when the strike is over that patient,whose care brought us together in the health sector, will be in the morgue. I am aware that the private hospital Mr president’s son was treated had 24 hours power supply not the one that a so-called tertiary hospital cannot boast of 8-hours power supply in a day, where a team of surgeons would start a surgery with power supply only for a blackout to be experienced 30 minutes into the surgery and everybody inside the theatre would bring out their cell phones as source of light. Believe you me, that power would never be restored in the next 12 hours in our public hospitals and Nigerians still expect Nigerian doctors to perform wonders or to be on a par with their counterparts in the UK,USA and other saner countries . Do I need to waste by time talking about the toilet systems of our government hospitals? Just know the toilet systems there are culture media,when you go ,you will contract your own infection and can then develop it at your pace.
I am aware that the management of that private hospital chose their workers on merit and not the one a politician or a very prominent person in Abuja or elsewhere would issue a recommendation letter to an incompetent job seeker, compelling the management of the hospital to employ the job seeker. I need not to ask the management of the hospital whether they applied the federal or state character as contained in S14( 3& 4) of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria( CFRN) as amended, in selecting their workers. As late Chinua (lumogu) Alfred Achebe said in his book,There Was A Country, that our so-called federal( and state ) character is a mockery of America’s Affirmative Action. To me, that section of our constitution enthrones mediocrity over merit and that was why in 2013 the entrance cut-off marks for our Unity schools were about 139 for pupils from Imo state while it was 2 for pupils from Yobe state . That means somebody from Imo state who scored 138 would not be admitted into our Unity school then but a colleague from Yobe state who scored 2 marks would be admitted .Even when they studied the same textbooks and same time was given to them to prepare for the examination . That ugly experience negated S.42 of our constitution which states that :
(1) A citizen of Nigeria of a particular community, ethnic group, place of origin, sex, religion or political opinion shall not, by reason only that her is such a person –
(a) be subject either expressly by, or in the practical application of, any law in force in Nigeria or any executive or administrative action of the government, to disabilities or restrictions to which citizens of Nigeria of other communities, ethnic groups, places of origin, sex, religions or political opinions are not made subject; or
(b) be accorded either expressly by, or in the practical application of, any law in force in Nigeria or any such executive or administrative action, any privilege or advantage that is not accorded to citizens of Nigeria of other communities, ethnic groups, places of origin, sex, religions or political opinions.
(2) No citizen of Nigeria shall be subjected to any disability or deprivation merely by reason of the circumstances of his birth.
Cedarcrest Hospital ,Abuja
In that private hospital where Yusuf was treated, I hope all medical tests could be performed round the clock unlike what happens in our private hospital where once it is 2pm no collection of samples from outpatients and any medical tests beyond this period must be for medical emergencies and of course only few of them could not be done ,the same thing is applicable during the weekends. I have said it time without number that majority of our so-called tertiary health institutions in Nigeria are not on a par with mere secondary health institutions abroad. Do you blame the medical doctors for that ? Was it the medical doctors that destroyed our power sector ,Railway system and other sectors of the economy ? The answer is totally no as everything in Nigerian revolves round those in the corridor of power as they can cause artificial fuel scarcity to increase the Petrol Pump Price of Premium Motor Spirit( PMS) from N87 to N145 and now that the move is fully accepted by all,they are once again on top of the politics that will increase the price once more to at least N185 . If somebody opposes them, DSS will arrest the person on the guise of carrying out a ‘sting operation’ and the person will be charged with treason. Thereafter,the office of the Attorney General and minister of justice will quickly go to the law-court to file a suit with the aim of declaring the person a terrorist .
It is very painful and shameful that those who make policies and enact laws for our public health sector are afraid of patronizing our public hospitals because they know how obnoxious and primitive the laws and policies are, hence no need experimenting with their lives. At least the politicians are aware that in a private hospital all the medical diagnostic and therapeutic machines are bought and manned by the rightful professionals,not like our public hospitals where contract for the purchase of such important medical equipment is awarded to party members or cronies who know nothing about the machines . Such party members and cronies may not bother to consult health professionals before buying and installing the machines in our hospitals, after all nobody can hold them accountable for any of their actions . No wonder a cancer patient can travel all the way from Cross River to Lagos for , let us say Radiotherapy, only for him/her to be told that the machine is faulty with no definite date for its repair. I was recently informed that some of the anachronistic and outdated machines Roentgen used in discovering X-ray in 1895 have found their way in our Nigerian hospitals.
During the last National Council of Health (NCH) Meeting which was held in Ogun state , Dr. Francis Ukwuije, the Head of Health Financing, Federal Ministry of Health, mounted the podium to didactically enlighten the council on the report of the just concluded National Health Accounts. He stated that ‘out-of-pocket’ expenditure as a proportion of total health expenditure was as high as 73.8% in 2016 and the implication was that many Nigerians, especially the poor and the vulnerable, were dying as a result of their inability to afford healthcare. He went further to remind the council that on Tuesday, November 7, 2017 President Muhammadu Buhari presented the 2018 budget proposal to the National Assembly, allocating the paltry sum of N340.45 billion to the health sector, which comprises N269.34 billion for recurrent expenditure; payment of salaries and overheads and N71.11 billion as capital expenditure. It means that 3.9% and not the agreed 15% of the annual budget was allocated to the health sector and hence a mockery and an affront to the 2001 Abuja Declaration, which stipulated that a minimum of 15% of the annual budget should be allocated to health sector. It may also interest us to note that Nigeria has not achieved this target for more 15 years after this declaration was made in our nation’s capital. It is very clear that this target will, of course, not be met in 2018
To be continued…….