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Not A Good Time To Be Sick In Nigeria

Source: Dr. Prince Charles Dickson
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Two-point-eight-billion naira
Oil money is still missing
Two-point-eight-billion naira
Oil money is still missing
Them set up inquiry
Them say money no lost o
Them dabaru everybody
Supervisor Obasanjo
Them say make him no talk o
"Money no lost," them shout again
Inquiry come close o
E no finish, e no finish, e no finish
Fela Anikulapo Kuti’s army arrangement

I hummed to the song…and reflected sick politicians, sick followership, sick nation, but we keep moving one day at a time. We won’t die, we have a strong resolve, we don’t die, and we believe that it cannot end just like that. Our immune system defies medical logic.

Myself and my beloved companion had a long conversation, on the status of Nigeria's health sector, from infrastructure, to professionals, it was a sorry story, let us not go into the allied industry like pharmaceuticals, medical education or the technology of medicine etc. we tried hard not to focus or misdiagnosis, half baked and unbaked professionals.

It is not a subject for debate that we do not have the best in terms of health practitioners, but we have some of the best that can stand their own anywhere in the world and at anytime. However we are the same country where you hear the story below.

The Minister of Health, Dr. Osagie Ehanire has told Nigerian doctors seeking to relocate to countries like the UK, to reconsider such plans as they would lose out on getting hazard allowance. Ehanire said there is no need for doctors to leave the country as the government was working on ensuring better welfare for them.

Speaking on the 58 doctors who were prevented from living Nigeria for the UK recently over visa issues, Ehanire said the news came as a surprise, but noted that the movement was irregular as many of them were without visas. The Cable (online medium) quoted the minister as adding that he was not aware if the doctors had eventually left the country.

“We were all surprised to hear that they were at the airport. I think somehow or the other, it was irregular in that many of them did not have visas. I don’t know what evidence you have, maybe it’s a rumor that they have now left the country, I don’t know, but nobody should be leaving the country without visa,” he said.

Please how did this kind of leaders lay us, who did we offend so the doctors simply went to the airport without visas hoping to travel, and they were leaving because of a lack of hazard allowances. What was rocket science for a Minister to get the exactitudes in terms of information, how is it that doctors are leaving because of hazard allowances, to even risk leaving during this pandemic.

If 58 doctors left in one sweep, and that’s because there were hitches, how many have left unaccounted for, without hitches, and we never will know them, till they do exploits in other climes. So sometime last week, our neighbor Ghana was pulling off some local miracle, as her Vice President Dr Mahamudu Bawumia,, commissioned a 100-bed Ghana Infectious Disease Centre (GIDC) for treatment and management of COVID-19 and other infectious diseases in the country.

The ultra-modern facility worth US$7.5 million was funded by the Ghana COVID-19 Private Sector Fund, which saw 536 patriotic and industrious Ghanaians constructing the project, to support government’s efforts in combating the COVID-19 pandemic.

The first ever GIDC facility located at the Ga East Municipal Hospital, comprised a level three Biomedical laboratory, a 21-bed Intensive Care Unit, a dispensary, a triage unit, waiting areas, nurses station, VIP and general wards and a medical gas house, was constructed through the collaboration of civilian and military engineers, planners and architects within three months.

According to the Chairperson of the Covid-19 National Trust Fund, Justice Sophia Akuffo, “Looking at the facility, the way it’s been laid out for total safety of the medical staff, total safety of the patients, total safety of the public it looks very comfortable. It looks very clean,” she said. “It’s a very well thought out, a very humane installation that has been built and the beauty of it is that most of the inputs for the building and most of all the skills are Ghanaian. It’s home grown.”

In Nigeria we had expended N32 billion to construct tents and medical supplies for the same purpose. And spent even more possibly in SMS to Nigerians and daily press briefings, and adashe (cooperative thrift) induced COVID19 fatality figures.

Millions of Nigerians are sick, treatable ailment like malaria and others terminal illness like cancer, and then COVID19 came. The pandemic has disrupted the lives of millions of people. Many have been at home for months. The trauma of the Great Lockdown is taking a serious psychosocial toll. It’s completely understandable that people want to get on with their lives’. ‘But we will not go back to the “old normal”. The pandemic has already changed the way we live our lives. Part of adjusting to the “new normal” is finding ways to live our lives safely.

The growth we are seeing in COVID-19 cases in Africa, nay Nigeria, is placing an ever-greater strain on health services across the continent. There are now about 10,000 confirmed COVID-19 cases amongst healthcare workers in Africa. ‘This has very real consequences for the individuals who work in [the healthcare sector].

Doctors, nurses, and other health professionals are our mothers, brothers, and sisters. They are helping to save lives endangered by COVID-19. We must make sure that they have the equipment, skills, and information they need to keep themselves, their patients, and colleagues safe. Our doctors have threatened strikes, nurses have threatened strikes, the conditions of their work and their concerns about how the governments have been managing the pandemic is one that keeps raising concerns. Even before we got into COVID-19, our health system in Nigeria was already ailing. At the top of the list was the shortage of personnel, nurses and doctors. We went into this pandemic with a skeleton health system. Public healthcare systems had been weakened by ridiculous budgetary allocations

Our population is increasing, but not our health infrastructure, provision of facilities is not keeping pace with population growth.

As a nation, a people and government, we have not increased substantially COVID-19 testing for citizens albeit health workers. We have done little in protecting citizens and health workers by providing high quality PPE and masks, as well as other necessary equipment. Frontline workers are also not being adequately trained to confront the disease.

We have as usual continued to talk, and play politics over increasing the salaries of health workers and paying them on a frequent and regular basis, which can help motivation as we put in more effort in scaling up facilities.

We have not even been able to guarantee the inclusion of health workers’ unions on committees that formulate policies for the health sector in general and for the COVID-19 crisis in particular, and that they have a voice in helping to determine such policies.

These are elementary demands, policies that any sensitive person would agree to after having seen the catastrophe inflicted upon the population. Indeed after Fela sang many years ago, it is 2020, and we trying to navigate the new normal of COVID19, what are our leaders doing, NDDC money is missing, NNPC money we don’t know how much is missing, legislators set up inquiry, and some people faint, others were more bothered about whether one was a Mushin or VI boy, everything has been dabaru-ed, supervisor Buhari talk say people wan him bin trust don fall him hand, no hospital is built, health workers are shortchanged, citizens are suffering, these are not times to be sick in Nigeria, if not in some distant land as one passes you did hear the ancestors singing in Fela’s voice, E no finish, e no finish, e no finish, na wayo government be this, till when—only time will tell.

Disclaimer: "The views/contents expressed in this article are the sole responsibility of Dr. Prince Charles Dickson and do not necessarily reflect those of The Nigerian Voice. The Nigerian Voice will not be responsible or liable for any inaccurate or incorrect statements contained in this article."