My opinion, my thought process..a valve for the bedlam in my head.

Nigerian Hospitals and The Death of The Nigerian Spirit

These subjects have been eating away at me for the past 2 weeks, it keeps blowing hot and cold in my mind, but the events of the last 2 days have just made it impossible for me not to get this off my chest.

National Hospital Abuja : Hospital or Guillotine?

I have had conversations with people about their experiences with Nigerian hospitals, how they have lost loved ones to the sheer non-nonchalance of Hospital authorities, Doctors and nurses. I shall recount a few of the stories I have heard:

Zainab’s aunt got involved in a road accident, and fell unconscious immediately. Good samaritans (the few left, I shall get to this in a bit) who came to her rescue rushed her to General Hospital Abuja Emergency wing . The authorities of the hospital refused to take in the patient, nor administer potentially life saving first aid treatment until a deposit is made by the people who brought her in. The victim was left at the entrance of the Hospital, on the bare floor. The Good Samaritans managed to contact her family, who rushed down and quickly mobilized to take her to another hospital. Getting an ambulance was a big challenge, and when they finally got one it developed a fault on the way. The victim gave up the ghost right there in the ambulance, many hours after the accident later.

My colleague’s brother, TJ, and his friends were coming from an evening out and ran into a stationary truck, just outside Ceedi Plaza, in Abuja. Him and the other occupants of the vehicle were rushed to the National Hospital. My colleague’s brother was still breathing as at when they arrived at the emergency wing of the hospital. The hospital authorities refused to take the victims in, or administer first aid until a Police report is produced. My colleague’s brother, a promising young man in his 30s, died right there, unattended at the hospital.

Yesterday we got news that Shedrack, a promising football talent, who works for us, and who is scheduled to travel out of the country in a few months to the Middle East to play football, had been knocked down by a hit and run vehicle that veered unto the pedestrian path where he was walking. For 4 hours, Shedrack was lying unconscious in the gutter, with people gathered around looking at his still, badly battered body. They neither attempted to bring him out and rush him to the hospital, nor call the authorities, probably for fear of what the hospitals will subject them to. In the end, someone, probably God sent, called the police who came and found that the victim was still alive. They took him ,with half of his head broken, and the whole of his back opened up, to the Abuja National Hospital.

These 3 real life stories point to a simple fact – The Nigerian Health system is dead along with it the Nigerian spirit.

Abuja National Hospital is supposed to be the flagship of the Nigerian health system, it is supposed to be equipped with state of the art equipment, and staffed by the best medical personnel in Nigeria. If the National Hospital is this poor, what does that say of the hospitals in the smaller towns and cities that dot the landscape of Nigeria?

It beats me how even Doctors who swore to the Hippocratic oath, part of which reads thus;

In every house where I come I will enter only for the good of my patients, keeping myself far from all intentional ill-doing ……

can stand by and watch an accident victim brought to the emergency room die,slowly, or violently, in pain, pain that can’t be imagined by anyone alive. Isn’t an emergency room supposed to be a place where the wounded and dying come to and are given a chance, even if it is a slim one, at survival. That is not what we have now, we have a place where someone gets brought to just to have the smell of methylated spirit and chloroform as the last earthly smell he or she will perceive. Why should a hospital insist on a Police report or a deposit before attending to an accident victim at the “Emergency” wing of a hospital? Why for God’s sake? How can a hospital turn a blind eye and watch a man or woman, who could have survived if quick medical attention was brought his or her way, bleed to death? Is that what hospitals were made for, is that how bad things have become in our country? Why not save the life, even if it is that of a criminal, and then call in the Police? I can remember that even the Police have come out to deny that they demand that Hospitals ask for a report before treating even a gunshot victim. There is a God in heaven, and I hope he can forgive all of these.

The attitude of the hospitals has eventually eroded the spirit of humanity that we used to be known for as Nigerians. Who wants to help an accident victim to the hospital and get into the “high jump” that the Hospital or the Police will put them through? Why bother rushing Shedrack to the Hospital and be made to cough out whatever deposit they ask for? who wants to live for the rest of their lives with the horror of watching a victim die, slowly, painfully, just because they could not cough out the deposit?

The Hospitals are dead, the Nigerian spirit is dead. We are at the mercy of our God and good fortune. It doesn’t matter if one is very rich or very poor, when accidents happen family might not be able to get there on time to rush one to the kind of hospital good money can pay for. The moments after an accident leaves one at the mercy of the humane spirit of the eyewitnesses to the incidence. These days that spirit doesn’t live with us anymore.

May God continue to protect us.

16 responses

  1. honeysucklebelle

    True dat. Every story u hav quoted has been very touching indeed. Its sad n its pathetic on d part of the health care givers. No form of excuse can be given to justify our actions.
    All they need is a constant reminder of that oath. Most of them took it years ago n hav even forgotten d wordings. As human beings we need a little stimulus from d outside to push us to work. Doctors see so many things in d course of their practice and quickly enough they develop a form of apathy as such.
    So a constant reminder is what I advocate

    July 1, 2011 at 5:11 pm

  2. Mark Amaza

    True. National Hospital is so crap our president can’t be treated there while u c American leaders going to Walter Reed, a military hospital. I remember meeting a Nigerian doctor based in the States who was offered a job at the National Hospital and he replied, ‘u can’t pay me, b’cos u aren’t willing to.’ Not to mention the system. We need urgent reforms

    July 1, 2011 at 5:21 pm

  3. lekan adio

    Really moving article, but why would hospitals/doctors still insist on police reports? Don’t think its stated anywhere in the Nigerian constitution. Did the talented footballer survive?ated anywhere in the Nigerian constitution. Did the talented footballer survive?

    July 1, 2011 at 5:30 pm

  4. @deevagal

    Lemme just say this, I’m a doctor and I’m just a staff where I work.I don’t own the hosp, I don’t make any rules. I’m very dispensible! These policies are not made by the doctors u meet in the emergency room, but by the people at the top sittin in their air conditioned offices. Those ones who don’t even remember their basic clinical skills. They make the rules, they are in charge of policy and change, they are the ones who fire you if u get ur lousy ass in the middle of some police drama…
    What I would like to advise is go to a good private hosp if u wanna get good medical care. Federal hosps are not accountable to anyone! Heck the minister of health doesn’t even remember any oath.. Health care in nigeria is crap, frm the top down!
    Sorry for d long post!

    July 1, 2011 at 5:49 pm

  5. hajjoh

    We live in a society where human life has no value. Thousands and millions of people die needlessly every day without help or mention, we forget, we forgive and are passive to death or pain and continue as if nothing happened. People who have lives of others entrusted to them, relations,doctors, nurses, mid wives,police. Etc shld be made to take responsiblity for failure towards others. That is the only way murder and mansaulghter will be rid off our society.

    July 1, 2011 at 6:20 pm

  6. dbrizio

    Hmmmmm….. where do i begin?

    Condolences to the families and loved ones of the victims.
    But this story is one party’s POV and since the other party haven’t spoken for themselves, i cant pass judgement.
    i will however want to redistribute your anger, as it seemed focused on hospitals.

    the scenarios u painted are quite popular with private hospitals (understandably so).
    I dont know how the national hospital operates, so i wont go there either, i just want to correct the illusion that same applies to every hospital (as u’re tryna make readers believe).
    let me start with a story of my own.

    i had a doctor friend @ the teaching hospital ilorin and one day we were together on a sunday, tryna to hang-out when he was called that there had been a mass casualty, approximately 50pple rushed in after a big bus collided with a trailer, he had to run back to the hospital even though he wasnt on duty, i took him and saw as doctors ran in from all corners, to save lives, some still in church attire……..Its a day i still cant wipe out from my memory, saw many lifeless bodies. I was proud of my friend and his colleagues who left wateva leisure they were supposed to b engaged in to answer the call of duty. (If they had not gone, nutin wld have happened, and the blame for wateva careless lives that were lost wld have bn attributed to inadequate staffing).

    This story shows selflessness of these much maligned doctors, so u can put the blame for the unfortunate incidents in your story @ the doorstep of NH and indeed the staff on the duty @ the time. (i’m just against generalization)

    As for the Nigerian spirit, how can u, my good sir, blame that on hospitals? wat will u blame dem for next, armed robbery and kidnapping?
    The eroded ‘nigerian spirit’ is simply nigerians bn less ‘we’ and more ‘me’……..and that has bn the lot of all nigerians, beginning from the top or why else shldnt there be a standard ambulance weneva needed especially in abuja, said to be the land of sugar, spice and everytin nice (until now anyways). Its bcos the bulk of the money meant for health stops at the desk of the politicians). Why is there not a form of meagre health insurance for all nigerians, Obama fought for health for abt two years, wat has d govt done abt that in naija.
    i dont know how much deposit is required but im guessing nutin more than 5k, anyone who takes anybody (friend or foe) to be hospital has started a journey, and even if you have to drop something valuable at the spot to complete that journey, then so be it. but nigerians dont value human life anymore, so nobody wants to spare a kobo for someone he doesnt know (if someone whispered that d person in the gutter was a wealthy man’s son, im sure they’d have bn struggling to undergo the police and deposit wahala).
    a man who will kill for money wont mind watching anoda die in a gutter. Indeed my friend, the population has rubbed off on the doctors.

    i cld go on and on abt this, indeed there are many things i want to say (anti-topic) but i’ll jst leave it @ this.

    PS: I’m not saying you’re wrong, you’re just failing to look at the bigger picture. I sense u’re speaking emotionally and not pragmatically.

    July 1, 2011 at 6:56 pm

  7. Blanc

    Whatever we see is just a reflection of a nation under the control of hell-bound leaders(pardon my use of words) who won’t do the right things that will better the lives of people. This is not a new problem, it has been there all my life and the way things are going, it does not look like it will end soon. I put my safety/protection in God’s hand and pray God helps this country.

    July 1, 2011 at 7:28 pm

  8. abi mohammed

    The author of this article is obviously not a health worker and cannot distinguish between the under-paid, over-worked, under appreciated health workers and the management of the hospitals they serve. Most times the management are no more than an extension of a corrupt government. The sole problem of Nigerians is the inability to heap blame on those who deserve it so that proper restitution can be made. The cycle of poor governance-corruption-bad management-under-paid workforce is the problem with the health sector, Nepa, road network etc so why single out healthcare?

    July 1, 2011 at 8:44 pm

  9. I’m a 5th year medical student in a school that’s d 3rd best in the country!
    During my training,and its an excruciatingly slow,painful and heartless one..I’ve seen so much about much and everything.
    First I’ll point out that the patients brought to our teaching hospital come from all and everywhere,mostly because the hospital boasts of some of the best practitioners in the country…still there is rot everywhere. As a medical student,we are expected to also be in these ‘emergency’ rooms and its never a beautiful sight! We do have a major problem in this country.
    1)No EMT services. Accident victims present hours after the incident all lumped up in the back of a rickety smoky truck unconscious and almost gone.. Or at the risk of a limb loss at best
    2) The standards have fallen at all levels. As a student, while training in these long 6yrs +,you lose the passion,the strength and yes sometimes forget to see the pts as human beings but instead as part of the job.
    3)Understaff – the ER is jammed each day with varrying kinds of people..the place reeks and is not a sight for eyes. One doctor is to 5 severely injured or ill!he’s tired,annoyed and very much off his limit after several hours of work!
    4) It gets worse… Those 5 will not get all they need because some execs in the Hospital Board have made a law that says u hav to be signed in to receive certain things..

    I’m not saying the doctors are innocent or any better. the decay is at every and all levels..
    I personally can say I’ve lost so much of the passion I started the course with..because one doctor is only a fragment of a whole… The system is screwed at all levels.
    I’ll also say here that in this hospital we try our best against all odds. We see every emergency with the available/needed materials.. It may not be enough,it may not necessarily nip the bud,but it helps..
    And again,I’ve personally attended to a gunshot wound patient in our A&E and no1 asked him for a police report until he was stable and recovering!
    These things happen everyday..there’s a major plague necrotising our country and its just not healthcare..its every sector.

    July 1, 2011 at 11:19 pm

  10. Okeoghene

    My doctor stopped practicing and went into politics cos that is where the money is now.

    July 2, 2011 at 12:48 am

  11. The previous comments have covered many aspects of this cancerous problem in our nations health system so I won’t over-flog the issue. I would just like us to look at things from the perspective of the ‘good samaritan’.

    You see the mentality of Nigerians is so funny that it takes real courage to act in certain situations. Imagine for instance if a good samaritan had rushed to help the footballer in the gutter. He could actually be accused of being the one that ran the man down or worse still if an autopsy is carried out it may be proved that the victim died due to improper handling between the accident scene and the hospital. Even the boy’s family for lack of who to blame could in their overwhelming emotional state start blaming the innocent samaritan for the death.

    How many Nigerians actually know about accident first aid? The bystanders looking over the body probably had no basic training in administering aid before emergency services arrive. How many people are aware of emergency numbers if any exist (I know there are in Lagos) and what is the Government doing to enlighten people on these things. Its a really small part of a very big problem. I could go on but I think I’ve made my point.

    God save us from harm.our nations health system so I won’t over-flog the issue. I would just like us to look at things from the perspective of the ‘good samaritan’.

    You see the mentality of Nigerians is so funny that it takes real courage to act in certain situations. Imagine for instance if a good samaritan had rushed to help the footballer in the gutter. He could actually be accused of being the one that ran the man down or worse still if an autopsy is carried out it may be proved that the victim died due to improper handling between the accident scene and the hospital. Even the boy’s family for lack of who to blame could in their overwhelming emotional state start blaming the innocent samaritan for the death.

    How many Nigerians actually know about accident first aid? The bystanders looking over the body probably had no basic training in administering aid before emergency services arrive. How many people are aware of emergency numbers if any exist (I know there are in Lagos) and what is the Government doing to enlighten people on these things. Its a really small part of a very big problem. I could go on but I think I’ve made my point.

    God save us from harm.

    July 2, 2011 at 5:48 pm

  12. That last statement is so deep.

    July 2, 2011 at 6:00 pm

  13. I mean Oke.

    July 2, 2011 at 6:00 pm

  14. A doctor friend of mine once delivered a baby at the car park of a hospital he wasn’t an employee of! After the patient arrived and couldn’t find help when she cried, my doctor friend who was going home saw her and helped.
    The arrogance and nonchalance found in 9ja doctors start from Uni where their lecturers make them suffer hard for their MB degrees. Eventually the pass out feeling like gods and that humanity owes them a lot of gratitude.

    July 2, 2011 at 6:21 pm

  15. hey! cool article….all you mentioned are still a result of inefficient leadership,this is the root of a lot of issues in Nigeria. checkout my little piece on http://www.versatiledavid.blogspot.com Got some ideas on some projects we can work on together

    July 5, 2011 at 1:03 am

  16. Hmm!

    What then is the need for an ER or Emergency section in a hospital?

    I refuse to say anything about NH abuja, it will mean opening up a lot of wounds.

    July 6, 2011 at 11:26 am

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