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|Unpleasant Tales From A Nigerian Hospital (1) by ANPA: 3:42am On Nov 29, 2010|
[Source: The ANPA Blog]
Nigerian doctors and nurses work under conditions that few of us in the Diaspora can fathom. Despite lack of equipment, broken facilities, and poor remuneration, the vast majority of these health workers do a fabulous job. We have noted on this blog the atmosphere of insecurity under which Nigerian doctors perform their work, having become targets of a thriving kidnapping industry, particularly in the South Eastern part of the country. The incessant strike actions, such as those recently called by Lagos State and Edo State doctors, reflect deep overall dissatisfaction by these doctors. So, it is not surprising that such poor working conditions might take a toll on their professionalism.
While we feel common cause with our colleagues at home, and support their fight for better working conditions, we are troubled by the myriad complaints that ANPA members receive from family members and friends alleging unprofessional and unethical treatment at some of Nigeria's flagship hospitals. The following from a Nigerian parent is, unfortunately, an all too common tale (the identity of the patient, doctors, and hospitals have been removed):
"My daughter's condition exposed me to the level of corruption in the public healthcare system in Nigeria. The doctors are a Lord unto themselves, operate private hospitals and divert patients to their hospitals with impunity. The only language that drives them is money. At the first private hospital we went to, we met a doctor who turned out to be a [Teaching Hospital] staff. He initially said the condition could be treated with antibiotics. Each time we went, we were arm-twisted to buy antibiotics at four times the normal price. Even when the X-ray showed that surgery was necessary, he continued to prescribe the same drugs for us which must be purchased in the clinic. On another visit, we met a second doctor who was so lackadaisical in his manners and utterances that we decided not to go back to the hospital.
We cannot verify these allegations, but few would deny that such sentiments are rife among Nigerians. Overcoming such cynicism will require renewed effort by health workers to ensure ethical practice and professionalism at all levels. This should be a priority concern for the Nigerian Medical Association (NMA), the National Association of Resident Doctors (NARD), the National Association of Nigeria Nurses and Midwives (NANNM) and other professional groups of doctors, nurses, and allied health workers.
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