Luke 2:30: For my eyes have seen your salvation; the voice of Simeon, a prayer of satisfaction. The past 10 days have been satisfying in the spirit of sorosoke– speak up. Nigeria has been saddled over the years with corrupt practices, which cut across all sectors of the economy including health. It is no longer strange that doctors are leaving the shores of this country out of frustration in their thousands. They now have WhatsApp groups and platforms on Telegram, etc to leverage these. When you visit key places like the USA, UK, their top medical personnel are Nigerians.
The average medical personnel want to write one international examination or another and leave with the first available flight. He or she is either working on the visa, immigration papers or writing one foreign exam or the other. The junior doctors are no longer interested in becoming specialists in this country. The few that are working in most private hospitals, since getting work in public hospitals is quite a night mare, are saving up fast to leave Nigeria. The few specialists that are struggling hard to gain entry into academia in the government tertiary hospitals are frustrated with their talents hence remain in private hospitals. Meritocracy is unrewarded. Having the best result means nothing. It does not guarantee instant job in a teaching hospital. There is no reason to look up to such merit. There is no recognition from the government. It is business as usual.
The medical officers looking for placement in residency are just enormous fueling the quest to leave and look for greener pastures. I have seen a professor processing his papers to leave Nigeria. The frustration is real.The few-privileged specialists are grappling with patient traffic. The ratio of specialist to patients is nothing to write home about in Nigeria. There was a time after medical school; one would have variety of choices to make as regards where to do houseman-ship.
As a house doctor, you have a brand new car to enable you move around and answer to your call duties.This is a mere dream in our time. Many doctors have to wait several months to get placement for the house jobs. The salaries are so meagre that they have to trek and sometime use public transport to get to work. How then can he or she get hold of the time? He or she has to wait for the bus to be filled when patients are waiting in critical state.
I was having a discussion with a colleague in diaspora, he kept saying, doc, you need to come over and see for yourself. The advancement in medical equipment, research funding among others in western world puts us in the Stone Age. He said and I quote, doctors over here do notthink about money but rather on how they can make healthcare better. We have been struggling with National health insurance scheme for years. Have we gotten it right? How is the coverage as we speak? Have we met the (SDGs) sustainable development goals in our individual states?
Let us therefore know that until we and our leaders are all treated in the same hospital as citizens;until we feel bad at the deplorable state of most of our primary, secondary and tertiary centres;until we know that training doctors and losing them to the international community is a serious and emergency situation; until our politicians stop flying abroad to receive treatment;until we have very robust and well-fundedspecialist training institutes in adequate number in all states;until we unite all health workers with a workable attractive salary scale; until we fund research and make use of the research results for sustainable developments; until we build road networks that will connect communities to primary health centres and have functioning ambulances; until we start equipping our public hospitals with modern equipment that will be at par with the international community; until government start funding training and re-training of health workers; until we start building hospitals that will be within 3 km radius from home settlements; until our lecturers can enjoy the benefits of teaching jobs with good pension schemes; until we make health care free with a robust health insurance scheme; until residency training is well funded, it will be the same story. End poor governance and build a robust health care system now. I await a new Nigeria.
Dr Emeka P Igbodike , MBBS, FWACS
Consultant Obstetrician and Gynaecologist