By Segun Odegbami
My political Diary – Day 22
A few minutes past midnight on Monday, I received a phone call from Mrs. Abiodun, the wife of my friend who had been hospitalized at the Federal Medical Centre, FMC, Abeokuta.
I had reported Abiodun’s matter in my diary and it attracted a lot of reactions including improvement to the environment of the hospital and the ‘successful’ surgical procedure that was done on Thursday, August 23.
Since Mrs. Abiodun’s phone call I have been angry, frustrated and pained by the helpless situation I find myself, unable to do anything when confronted with the truth of the present state of our health sector particularly in Ogun State.
I have no right whatsoever to blame anyone for the state of affairs, not been privy to why things are the way they are, but the facts have to be confronted and stated if that’s the only thing we can do.
The very first day that Abiodun was admitted into the FMC and I went to see him. Based on what I saw and experienced, common sense told me that unless we did anything else but leave him in that ‘hell hole’ it was likely he would not survive the aftermath of a surgical procedure in the environment.
Here are the impossible options we had to confront:
- take him abroad as most rich Nigerians would have done. We did not have the resources.
- Move him to another hospital in Ogun State with a better post-surgery facility and environment. FMC is the only public tertiary hospital in the State with the facilities to perform the surgery. The others are secondary health facilities at most.
- Move him to a tertiary public medical facility in Lagos. That would require starting the treatment and tests all over again, a luxury that was not available because of the urgency.
- Move him to a private hospital in Lagos. It would cost an arm and a leg that the immediate family and a few friends could not immediately muster.
So, reassured by some positive developments immediately following my diary report, we left him in the care of a hospital that was, despite its best emergency efforts, suffering from the pangs of a long standing insufficient attention paid to the public health sector in the country.
Through no fault of any particular persons, the medical infrastructure, facilities, environment and service that I saw at the FMC were not designed to manage and keep people with very serious ailments alive.
The whole State is littered with horror stories about what the people are going through in the health sector. Every household has their own stories to tell.
So, Abiodun was operated upon successfully on Thursday, August 23.
When he was discharged to go home 6 days later on Wednesday, August 29th, even a blind man could see that it was premature. The man could barely walk and had only started taking his first liquid meals that morning. He was actually moved out of the hospital on a wheel chair.
Two days later, on the 31st. of August, his situation deteriorated so badly at home that a mutual friend, Tunde Adegbola, visiting from Ibadan, took one look at him, called me up, and we agreed he should be immediately rushed back to the FMC.
He was promptly re-admitted.
The truth is that he was not fit enough to have been discharged after such a major surgery. The truth is that even whilst he was in the hospital there was a queue of equally ‘bad’ medical cases lined up waiting for a bed space that was not available. So, even Abiodun had to be discharged the moment there was a slight glimpse of his getting better.
Unfortunately, he got worse.
By the time he was returned to the hospital he was in a delirious state.
I sensed, along with the rest of the close family, that he was in a race against death.
Once again, the statistics of wasted human lives was about to be bolstered by the terrible state of our health facilities in the FMC.
The hospital needs a very urgent surgical procedure itself, starting with the injection of funds to take care of very basic items in a litany of essential requirements.
Two nights ago, when that phone call from his wife came at that time of the night, I just knew in my hearth, that it was the call I had prayed not to receive in this particular issue involving Abiodun.
‘Your brother is gone’. Amidst sobbing she told me.
I was shattered.
How can a people so blessed be so cursed at the same time? Where else in the world is dying so cheap?
The tragedy is that people even ascribe such avoidable deaths to God’s will.
In some climes, man has advanced in health care to the extent that people are living better and longer, and leading more productive lives before succumbing to the inevitability of death.
In the United Kingdom, the 2018 budget for the National Health Service, NHS, one of the best in the world and patronized by most of our political leaders, is top of the list of their priorities. It is higher than the combined total for Defense and Education, yet the average Briton complains that it is still not good enough!
The story is an alarming reverse in Nigeria.
It is important to appreciate the work of personnel in the medical sector, underpaid, overworked, handicapped, struggling against all odds and working under the worst possible conditions to provide the token health care presently available to Nigerians.
How they succeed at all is a miracle.
The present architecture is such that only lucky people survive any serious ailments.
We are losing the fight with little ailments as hospital facilities and staff are overstretched to breaking point.
Unlike in other climes where ‘Health is Wealth’, Nigeria’s health sector supports an unhealthy citizenry that can never be maximally productive.
So, my friend, a political stalwart and one of the closest people driving my political dream for Ogun State, a former political leader in his Olomore community in Abeokuta, Stephen Adebayo Abiodun, aka S Ade, died two nights ago.
His death, I must say, is particularly painful because, anywhere else but Nigeria in the world, it is likely he would still be alive.
His premature death has brought the issue of health care in my State and country more forcefully into my mind, adding fuel to the fire of my determination to become Governor of Ogun State next May.
It is from that position of political power that, with a team of experts drawn from various fields, Ogun State will become the safest and healthiest environment to live, work andinvestin the whole of Africa.
So, S Ade, has now joined the painful statistics of the needlessly dead or dying in Nigeria as a result of inade0.
His death, I promise, shall never be in vain.
Meanwhile, a date has been fixed for the Labour Party primaries in Ogun State. I am preparing for it as best as I can even within the present gloom.