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President Jonathan on healthcare

TIME and again we have witnessed unnecessary deaths as a result of insufficient and very poor medical services offered all over Nigeria.

The most painful scenarios are when the victims of these poor healthcare systems in place and their families know they could have pulled through with better services.

Sometime in September, it was rumoured that your wife, Mrs. Patience Jonathan, experienced a health scare that required her to seek medical attention inGermany.

Rumours had it that it was food poisoning at first, and then it was a ruptured appendix and finally someone mentioned Parkinson’s disease.

Whatever she may have suffered or still suffering is not the subject of this open letter but the special attention government officials and their families receive at the expense of Nigerians for all ailments, including common cold.

Evidently, something must be very wrong with the medical training and facilities in Nigeria when the genuinely rich, government officials (past and present) and their families avoid our own healthcare system.

This situation amounts to placing a premium on some lives above others even when all the people are supposed by fundamental human rights to receive equal care.

It beats my imagination that 21st centuryNigeria, a country that is one of the largest producers of crude oil in the world, cannot offer free medical care to her citizens or even when not free, a quality and well subsidized medical care.

There is nothing more shameful than this situation and one would have thought that it should be your first priority to increase the life span of the average Nigerian through quality healthcare.

Every year we lose thousands of people from the increasing occurrences of kidney, heart and cancer ailments and yet we think it is normal.

Nigerians raise monies to take their own toIndiabut a responsible government should have taken a bold step to intervene in these sufferings by inviting the Indians health professionals to perform the surgical operations inNigeriaat the expense of the government.

Do you know one of the reasons why corruption is rampant even to the least level of the Nigerian society? No one wants to be caught dead in this mess of lack of care because they know that in actuality we have a dysfunctional government.

So many times, we have had hospitals go on strike because the government would not implement the agreement it had with trade unions and when this happens, the ordinary Nigerian would die.

This is very wrong.Nigeriamust adopt a system that resembles the NHS trust in theUnited Kingdombut without placing undue burden on the salaries of the working class people.

We must take care of our own by investing heavily in the health sector through providing up-to-date medical training and upgrading available facilities, using those hospitals which “you” people visit in Europe and America as models.

It is time to truly carry out turnaround maintenance of our health institutions. We need specialist doctors all over Nigeria. We need quality training of medical staff and we need a stable system that does not close because of strikes.

I was reliably informed in 2009, that the teaching hospital at Enugudid not have functional indoor plumbing. Patients and their families had to rely on buying water in order to meet their needs. Imagine a teaching hospital of that nature without water; what kind of medicine were people practising there in the first place?

There should be a special task force on revamping these comatose institutions for better efficiency. Re-training of our healthcare workers to respond to emergencies is also imperative.

Mr. ANIETO UGOCHUKWU, a commentator on national issues, wrote from Lagos.


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