Over the years, having worked within and outside Nigeria both in clinical and public health domains, I am strongly obliged to state that the Nation Health drawbacks are essentially caused by doctors who ordinary are meant to be the leaders of the health team. It suffices to state that, while it is true that the leadership of the health team is like a birth right, their roles and responsibility are equally a birth right, only when these are aligned that we can claim the leadership of the heath team. Come to think of the request placed before the Federal Government, It is sad to note that the issues are quite petty and trivial to culminate to such a decision that will result to irreversible consequences and loss of lives.
As a medical doctor with over fourteen years experience, I have never had a course to question if I am the head of any health team where I found myself as the most senior doctor or the only doctor in a collection of health practitioners in a health mission, for the simple reason that, I know my bound and appreciated that even the weakest link in my team count. I will also not pursue vanity to a disreputable feat. The posture and activities of my colleagues both at the Public and Private sectors is appalling, such that it has left some of us who have seen our shortfalls and have made or shown some resentment to it are seen as deviance. We must note that what we think and promote is what can endear us or otherwise to the good books of the government, other health workers and the general public.
For me, I am not surprised at the backlash we receive from other supposedly team mates in the hospital. Looking critically at their opposition to us, you will naturally find out that something is wrong with us as doctors, if not, how could we have lose the confidence of all our team mates including non medic such as the ward attendance, administration staff etc? The truth of the matter is that, if we change our Corrupt and Indiscipline posture, we will naturally occupy our rightful place. Take for instance, the Heads of Hospitals and many health agencies are being led by the doctors, most of which their hall mark is characterized by kickbacks, high contract inflation even to outright thieving of public funds.
Our colleagues will promise heaven and earth to be appointed as heads of organizations, but as soon as they get there, their best friends and new found colleagues are the Finance and Admin Managers and the Procurement practitioners. I have survived several heartbreaks from my colleagues (very senior) in the past and have vowed never to listen to their germane-less advocacy for headship of the health team. From National assignments to international and so many other clinical public health engagements I have found myself in, one of the most recent was in a supposed tertiary institution headed by a doctor anyway, where doctors no matter your rank should go to the record office and queue up for prescription paper being issued by an officer below the rank of a record officer.
I have also been to an organization where patients are dying in troops for simple reason of lack of machine to run tests for a certain class of patients visiting a Specialty Clinic. Another one was a jamboree organization where names are submitted arbitrarily for adhoc jobs that needs some level of expertise, yet competency was dropped into the bin and meritocracy upheld. The peak of my heartbreak was when I worked in one of a supposed tertiary institution where in a bid to save patient life, a doctor rushed to the theatre to get an oxygen as a last point where such equipment are unarguably handy, could not find one, and we watch the man die.
Here, I am not saying the man couldn’t have died, but could have died gracefully and with some human effort. One can count on and on the rots in organizations headed by doctors. Now my question is, of what value is the appointment of a DCMAC adds to the already CMD and CMAC that has been exclusively for doctors? How does the work of a doctor be affected by the appointment of the most senior health practitioner to direct the activities of his other colleagues as a director or how does your work being affected if a health practitioner has reached a level of expertise in his field and he is refer to as a Consultant”.
It is worrisome that my colleagues have downed tool for the simple reason that the post of a Surgeon General is yet to be filled, even when the two Ministerial slots are occupied by them. I believe that the hazards’ allowance be review, but doctors especially our Consultants most justify the little that has been paid by actively and routinely availing themselves in the daily routines of the hospital instead of turning attainment of Consultant in the hospital as a gateway to truancy ; my colleagues certainly know what I mean. We are already fast losing our respect from the government and the general public, and in recent time even from our colleagues whose disposition is for the good of man.
Let me also use this opportunity to congratulate our President who has just assumed office and to urge him to be steadfast in his decision where reasoning should take over precedent than mere emotions and sentiment. Accept my unalloyed loyalty. This piece is a wakeup call to my colleagues to look up within us and appreciate the rots and imbroglio our actions and in-actions has brought to this noble profession and the health sector in general; as the only way to solve the problem of a leopard wanting to be called a lion can only be addressed by a change of behaviour of the supposedly “LION”.
Dr. Abdullahi Baba Abdul is a freelance Public Health Practitioner and a former UN Medical Doctor to the Republic of Trinidad and Tobago (Babaabdul2003@gmail.com; firstname.lastname@example.org