Sunday, 24 July 2016

The Sad Story of the Nigerian Doctor by Dr John

Nigeria is the only country where one is expected to perform optimally while in one of the harshest environments. I was in a function recently in Illinois, USA when an American soldier walked in with his uniform. Everybody in the gathering stood up in reverence to the soldier. For about five minutes, I was confused and surprised. I was aware that we were not expecting a guest in the gathering but while the drama unfolded, I learnt that they normally do that to their military personnel, out of respect for laying down their lives for their nation.

But my focus is on doctors, they too heroes, in a way like soldiers. Today, every Nigerian wants medical doctors to perform like their counterparts in the USA,UK etc without bringing down the working conditions and remuneration packages obtainable there to our own country. It is indisputable that the efficiency of labour is determined by two major factors, an optimal working condition and good remuneration. Who bothers to compare the salaries, per annum , of American doctors and those in Nigeria?

I was in a restaurant recently where bank officials next to me were discussing salaries of doctors. One was saying that she thought doctors were being paid millions of naira until she was in the unit that processes salaries. They said all sorts of things, but I kept quiet, after all nobody knew my identity. To an average Nigerian, doctors are humanitarian workers. Yes, I accept that obvious fact, but we are not living in houses donated by humanitarian governments/agencies, our children don’t go to schools built by humanitarian agencies  where tuition fees would be free either. We don’t drive humanitarian cars and when we or our spouses go to the market to buy things, we are not given what we want so that humanitarian government can pay for us later.

Doctors in the private sector treat patients and save lives, but the relatives will refuse to pay, they may even find a way to attack the hospital staff and ‘free’ their relatives. To them, the doctor is a humanitarian worker, hence the medical consumables used in saving their relative’s lives were supplied free of charge to the hospital by other humanitarian agencies. An average Nigerian complains that doctors are more interested in the initial deposit before saving lives but  nobody will equally complain about patients and their relatives who are ready to beat up the doctors and their workers after saving the lives of their relatives and well-wishers in order to leave our hospitals without paying a dime.

Security agents are not helping matters, either. The security agents mounting roadblocks  will see a doctor rushing down to a hospital for a medical emergency and they will want the doctor to either ‘roger’ or come down to present all the papers for checking without minding the traffic congestion awaiting the said doctor in our busy roads. Also, personnel of our Federal Road Safety Corps will use the opportunity to check your tyres, the quality of your car engine etc and when they are done with you, the patient you are rushing to treat would then be on the way to the mortuary. How many doctors, as humanitarian workers, are allowed not to queue up in our banks, filling stations etc so that they can be attended to first for them to go and continue their humanitarian services? We are only humanitarian workers when we render services to the society but when the society renders services to us, all citizens will be equal before the law. That is the true story of the Nigerian doctor, and it is a sad one.

Dr. John wrote in from Port Harcourt, Rivers State.

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