The Problems In Nigeria's Health Sector (Part 2)
With respect to my first article,Nigeria's health sector cannot be said to be crisis-free. Cold war is the right word for the relationship between doctors and other health workers. This cold war is not without a cause just like the issue of Boko Haram which though they are telling us that their demand is to get Nigeria islamized,that is a political statement to confuse(or do I say to convince)gullible mind,their useless aim is to make the country ungovernable for Jonathan which their masters had earlier threatened. In our health sector,anybody that says that the main problem is leadership, it is either the person just wants to be economical with the truth or just being wantonly mischievous.
The major problem of the health sector is the same problem that has held our dear country underdeveloped for many years. The more you work, the less you earn and also the heavier your crime the lighter your punishment. Kabiru Sokoto that wasted a lot of innocent lives at Madalla,Niger state was only punished with a mere life imprisonment and he will forever be fed with taxpayers money till he will be pardoned by the next Fulani president or jailbreak,whichever that comes first. Now, compare somebody that killed only one person,when convicted that person will be sentenced to death by hanging.
The case of Reverend King who was convicted for killing only one of his church members,is currently awaiting supreme court final judgement to either uphold the death sentence passed by the lower courts (high court and court of appeal) or commute the judgement.
The likes of John Yusuf understood the inverse relationship between the gravity of one's crime and the level of punishment handed down to one after trial hence he solemnly stated that he only stole N23 billion as against the N40 billion naira he and his co-workers were being charged with.
He did not want to waste the time of the court or to derail the court by raising a lot frivolous injunctions to render the efforts of the prosecuting team nugatory, he simply pleaded guilty for stealing only N23 billion naira and the trial judge expectedly gave him a limp tap on the wrist by asking him to pay a fine of N750,000 as a waiver for the two years imprisonment earlier handed down to him.
Go to some sharia states and steal a goat,one of your hands will go but go and embezzle enough public funds,security escorts will be given to you.The militants and insurgents had earlier understood this inverse law hence when they want to kill, they do so in thousands so that amnesty will be offered to them because if they kill only one the long claws of the law must catch you.
This inverse Nigerian law is the main problem in our health sector,if not,tell me why a health worker who can mistakenly contract HIV,Pulmonary tuberculosis,Lassa fever etc from patients will be receiving paltry sum as salary while a mere councillor or a civil servant in an oil company will be swimming in an ocean of money?
Tell me the reason why a mere HND or OND holder in an oil company should be earning more than a health worker with MBBS,B.pharm etc in our hospitals? Today,everybody is struggling to either work in an oil company or become a politician because in these two places you are sure of your take-home pay packages. For some of us living in the oil-rich states ,you may be putting on air before your HND holding neighbour believing that your MBBS,LLB, or B.pharm certificate could show the difference in the social stratification,you will be disappointed and frustrated if that your HND neighbour works in one of the oil companies. You will be busy buying 'tokumbo' cars while that your neighbour will be be buying the latest brands of cars in the country in addition to other meaningful achievements.
Also while your children are attending the public schools where in a term they wills study for one month and go on strike for the next two months with their incompetent NCE-holding teachers,your neighbour's children will be attending the best private school in town where the tuition fee per term per child may be your own three months salary as a health worker. Some people will encourage you to go on because health work is a humanitarian service hence even if the government is owing your two months salary or still goes ahead to cut down your paltry salary,you will still render your services to humanity.
These people have failed to understand that even Jesus cursed a fig tree that failed to provider fruits to solve His immediate hunger even when the same bible said that it was not the time for the fig tree to bear fruits. What do we see these days?A common councillor of two months will achieve what a medical doctor of 20 years cannot achieve just because the said councillor had the courage to snatch ballot boxes from polling centers.
The members of JOHESU are aware that it is morally,legally and culturally wrong for them to head a department or hospital where there are medical consultants even when it is practically impossible now for fellow doctors with only MBBS qualification to head NMA(Nigeria Medical Association) let alone head a department or hospital where there are medical consultants. These JOHESU members have failed to understand that doctors allowed them to exist not that doctors cannot perform their functions in the hospitals but that there will be division of labour and to reduce the level of unemployment in the society.
If the JOHESU members doubt being originally made to render auxiliary services to the doctors,let the government set up parallel hospitals, one set will be manned by doctors while the other set will be manned by all JOHESU members added together,and let government not release any monthly allocation to any of the sets of hospitals,let each group pay their workers with their internally-generated revenue,it will not be a surprise that the set of hospitals manned by JOHESU will collapse into the hospitals manned by doctors. The reason is not elusive as any patient that goes to the hospital,goes to see the doctor and even in the fields of JOHESU,if patients get to know that there are doctors testing for blood sugar,for an instance,and there are also medical laboratory scientists doing the same thing,patients will naturally gravitate towards the doctors.
My advice to JOHESU is to join hands with the doctors to present all the grievances in the sector to the government in order to make the health sector more attractive. They should also know that they are not the only ones crying over the paltry nature of their salaries in that doctors are not happy at this inverse Nigerian relationship where the more one works,the less the salary one receives. At times some patients will not have any social support and it is still the health workers that will contribute money from their meagre salaries to help such patients.
Now, JOHESU members talk about the difference in the pay packages between doctors and other health workers, please what does it take them to know that a pilot and a driver of the same standing should not have the same pay packages .Also,a member of the civil defence should not receive the same amount of salary as a soldier of the same year hence they should stop calling professor Olikoye Kuti who did a good work and I still challenge them to show me with proofs any country where paramedics receive the same amount of salaries as doctors or possibly more than doctors.
I read in one of their write-ups where they quoted the declaration of human rights,that all are equal before the law,and must be treated equally. I think they should tell the president,the members of the national Assembly and all the governors that, so that they will be receiving the same salary as these leaders. They may as well consult economists to know why the levels of salaries for the gateman and the manager should not be the same. The earlier they join hands with doctors in the health sector to fight a common goal,the better for them.
DR PAUL JOHN