By Morenike Taire
A FEW weeks ago, a presenter and documentary maker for one of the more prominent television stations drew attention to the state of primary healthcare in one of the more prosperous local governments in Lagos State.
The environment, the dearth of infrastructure and the lack of adequate healthcare personnel in that particular local government meant individuals residing there have little chances of getting the quality of attention they require when in need. Pigs feed happily on the same platform with humans.
There is no potable water anyway, and the waterways that use that part of the local government as a thoroughfare are so abused that human wastes are routinely deposited therein. Mosquitoes breed unhindered, while the primary healthcare centre available has been turned into a zoo, lacking in basic infrastructure. There is no light from NEPA, no alternative energy sources and no water. In a kick-polio era, there are no reliable refrigerating apparatuses for the storage of polio immunization and others. The consequences can only be imagined.
This state of being, surely, cannot be peculiar to the local government in question. The strange thing was the reaction of the Chairman of that local government, who denied that it was the case, and blamed anyone but himself for the state of things.
All over the world, providing healthcare must be one of the most challenging things for governments at different levels, particularly in parts of the world that are still pretending to be socialistically inclined. In places where they try, healthcare is a challenge, not to mention in places where they donâ€™t.
In our country in particular, the challenges are legion. One of the only countries in the world still culturing the polio virus, we have incredible figures for maternal deaths, deaths of children under five and accidental mortalities.
Most of the time, these deaths can typically be avoided, but this is the case in accident instances than in any other. Not too long ago a Nigerian journalist working with the Guardian lost his life in the hands of assassins. We do not yet know for sure if they were hiredÂ or not, but eye witnesses insist the bleeding that lead to his eventual expiration might have been avoided had a Police report not been demanded at point of treatment in a hospital close to his home.
The Police report phenomenon has become part of our lives in general, and not only in the case of accident victims. If you got your prepaid GSM telephone stolen or otherwise lost, you would required to get a â€˜Police reportâ€™ in order to get a replacement.
If you were lucky enough to have done an update of your contacts and other important materials in the missing phone, you would have the luxury of simply acquiring a new line rather than go through the agony of getting a Police report.
In every likelihood, this so-called Police report which may contain not a word of the truth concerning the loss of your telephone and SIM pack materials, will set you back between three and five thousand naira. The contents would not have been investigated, and would have been typed by you and edited by a semi-illiterate officer who is in too much of a hurry to return to his lucrative duty post anyway.
This piece of hypocrisy is not limited to accidents and lost SIM packs, but also to the obtainment of petrol in jerrycans, since the DPR directive for petrol station to get rid of black market racketeers in their environs. The fuel dealers refuse to sell to innocent citizens trying to provide electricity for themselves in the event of governmentâ€™s failure to do so, while the black market thrives more than ever.
While it is bemusing- even amusing- for this kind of hypocritical wickedness to thrive in areas of SIM packs, accidental vehicles and the black fuel market, it is simply unacceptable for Police reports to be demanded before treatment is given to accidental or shot individuals who are losing blood and are in danger of dying. A proposal for a bill abolishing Police reports before the treatment of accidental victims has been considered, and it is hoped it will be passed into law.
Yet, all the laws in the world will not make up for our attitudes towards our compatriots, or the insistence by the constituencies of lawmakers on accountability. It must be the responsibility of everyone whose responsibility it is to administer healthcare, whether they are paid by government or not, to do so without condition. Not to do so must be a criminal offence.
Our attitude, not as much the availability of materials, is the bane of healthcare and education in Nigeria.