Health Workers Strike: Nigerians Are Dying by Fejiro Oliver

By Fejiro Oliver

That a department of radiology, medical laboratory sciences (which the media erroneously refer to as medical laboratory technology), optometry etc., is headed by a doctor is an aberration, a misdemeanour and oddity. What then is the use of studying such course when the practitioner cannot get to the peak of his career? 

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Just when I was about getting ready for my afternoon games; an SMS rushed in, which got me thinking that the medical war will go on non-stop until the citizen and the president do something about it by laying off the minister of Health, Mr. Chukwu Onyebuchi or acceding to JOHESU request. I was not thinking because it was the first SMS of the day over my last write up on the medical strike. As a matter of fact, it was not among the first 100 SMS and definitely not among the over 480 mails received at that moment, but because I concluded that I have finally known the reason for the power tussle in the volatile health sector.

The message came thus: “Doctors are the academics in the health sector, while your so called health workers-many of them-semi-educated are the non academic staff. In all jobs, only certain cadre of workers become CEO. For instance, the academics in the university, the engineers in NNPC, judges in judiciary. That is why doctors are CMD in hospitals. You claimed you are a journalist. Perhaps a secretary is the EDITOR of your newspaper! You are one of those jealous of doctors. Your article revealed that.” He ended. This is definitely what they are made to believe during their housemanship and internship.  If this is so; the medical sector is dead. With supposed physicians that think like this, the medical profession is in peril. Let’s analyse.

All over the world, there are only three group of medical profession (I stand to be corrected) that are ascribed the title ‘doctor’ namely; doctor of medicine, doctor of physiotherapy and doctor of dentistry, but this piece is narrowed down to doctor of medicine. When I set out to write ‘Nigeria Medical Workers strike; let us all die’, I was not expecting the kind of controversy and buzz as it has generated home and abroad. Certainly I was threading where angels fear to tread as revealed by Nigerian Medical Association (NMA) members who have called and sent mails. Their various comment suggested that I was threading on a dangerous path and should not be the one to open the public eye to the politicking in the health. Sorry my dear family members who are part of NMA; the truth must be told.

Our dear friend called other medical graduates “semi-educated’, a pitiable summary of their reason for going on strike, so he sees it. Can a pharmacist who manufactures the drugs which they in the doctor category prescribe be a semi illiterate, and yet they ask the public to take the drugs? Can a radiographer who do all the scan work in the hospital be an illiterate and yet they the so called ‘doctors’ begin treatment, while dependant on the scan produced by the radiographer? Is the medical laboratory scientist an illiterate when he diagnosis the cause of an ailment through his series of test carried out by him that the physicians used in working? Is the nurse truly semi- literate when a patient hope of recovery depends on him/her? Bring them on; is the optometrist a semi illiterate when patients with various eye problems seek his medical solution? Who then is the semi illiterate; the man who calls himself a doctor but cannot begin treatment until a test is carried out, or the man who diagnoses and refers the patient to any of the three doctors? Is it the man who forgets a scissors or cotton wool inside a patient body, stitch it up only for the patient to die later? Let the public judge.

I don’t know the school our doctors went to but the schools in Nigeria and abroad that I have been to bears school of health sciences, faculty of health sciences or college of medicine and all the various medical departments are in these departments. It’s befuddling to say that an insignificant department that cannot operate alone be allowed to be a CMD.

A professor of medicine who called from the USA to lend his voice aptly noted that hospitals are left in the hands of health administrators not clinicians. Can someone sing to the heavens to this ‘doctors’ that they have no business heading a hospital and if they should head, that any of the medical profession who is most qualified should head.

That a department of radiology, medical laboratory scientist (which the media erroneously refer to as medical laboratory technologist), optometry etc., is headed by a doctor is an aberration, a misdemeanor and oddity. What then is the use of studying such course when the practitioner cannot get to the peak of his career? Let all medical departments be headed by a graduate of such; not a fellow who did only few months of residency in it. You don’t force leadership when a people reject it. The various departments have refused to have MBBS graduate as their heads. Must they shed blood or keep this strike going for all our loved ones to die before their call is heeded?

In the college of engineering, there exist various departments, but the civil engineers have never laid claim that they alone be allowed to head the ministry of works, neither has the building engineers say to the structural engineer that it is their prerogative to head ministry of housing. The petrochemical engineer has not told the chemical engineer or petroleum engineer that they alone be allowed to head NNPC. The land surveyor has not told the estate surveyor that they alone be made minister for land survey? Has the quantity surveyor told the land surveyor that they should be allowed to be made surveyor general of the federation? NO! They all know that they are all engineers and surveyors, but designated differently for the smooth operation of the job. Where therein lies this show of pomposity by a minute member of the medical profession that they are the owners of medicine.

The public may not know it, but now they must! The three profession bearing ‘doctors’ constitute only 30 percent of the entire clinical staff in the hospital with doctor of medicine producing a paltry 12 percent. That a group of 12 percent be allowed to Lord over 70 percent qualified and worthy medical workers is an unforgivable sin and injustice to mankind. The academics which are the brain behind the country do not have only graduates of educational degrees as Vice Chancellors, but anybody who is a lecturer no matter the field of study can be appointed. The judiciary which the doctors of medicine want to emulate is the most professional field in the world, where universities operate a department as a faculty. Yet they have never fought each other that an international law and jurisprudence judge should not be made a minister of justice. They have never asked the President to allow only law school graduates of criminal laws to be made an attorney general, neither have they argued that only civil law graduate be made a chief judge. Anyone of the law profession is allowed to aspire to be a judge without hindrances. What then is wrong with our MBBS doctors?

No medical profession is entirely independent; all of them are allied to one another; support staff to each other. Let me tell you an experience. Five years ago, my cousin who is a doctor of medicine took me to see his friend who is a doctor of physiotherapy and was about to wed in two weeks time. There in the hospital, I heard his patient, an elderly man telling him that if he can make him walk before his wedding day; he, the patient will surprise him. I don’t know how he did it, but before the end of the two weeks, the man was hale and hearty, walking very well. I bet you can never guess this, but the patient was a consultant cardiologist! Yes, a consultant cardiologist who has given hope on life brought back to ‘life’ by another field of medicine. He did make good his promise as he was a major sponsor of the wedding.

As I write, in Ahmadu Bello University in a unit (which I won’t disclose) lies a consultant pediatrician who has been sustained on physiotherapy for the past ten years, after a successful surgery, with many more in the cue daily for treatment and yet his NMA colleagues will want the world to believe that they are indispensable, when actually they contribute the lowest of medical delivery. I know of hundreds NMA members whose hope of living lies in the nurses, DPT and optometrist; yet they refuse to allow professionalism reign in the health sector.

When doctors of medicine go on strike, they want my likes to pen reports that will cause government to hear and attract public sympathy, yet when other medical unions go on same strike; their national president term it sabotage, urging her members to be on duty. They want the media to be silent about it, forgetting that NMA strike does not affect every patient as there are always skeletal works going on by consultants and house officers. But how wrong he is. In the field of medicine; you are a clinical staff, non clinical staff or administrative staff. If this is so, what manner of argument are they propounding that medicine practice is akin to a house being built, where other staff are laborers’ while they are the engineers. It doesn’t just blend.

Fejiro Oliver is always paid by agents, so they shout. When I wrote advocating for fair trial to Ibori, they shouted to high heavens that I was paid millions by Ibori hatchet men; when I wrote the APC story; APC chieftains screamed that PDP is using me as their new media man. When I wrote against my own constituency, NUJ, for engaging in unprofessional conduct; they say Fejiro was being used by disgruntled elements and when I broke the Dafinone’s secret daughter reports, his hangers-on raised the roof that the secret daughter, Elizabeth Dafinone has paid me in pounds since she resides in London. And now that I have written on the JOHESU/NUPTAM strike, NMA members allege that I have been paid and being used by Medical Lab Scientists and Nurses to heat the polity and cause the sack of Minister Onyebuchi. If truly I’m being paid for all the countless reports and stories I have written for over a decade; I should be flying in my own private jet, chartering private planes whenever I go travelling, not boarding a business class.

Reports emanating from various newspaper reports, says that patients are already dying, with many more being evacuated to private hospitals; yet the doctors are there, helpless with no solution to the cure as they are handicapped. Will a doctor of medicine go to the physiotherapy department to treat a case he has never seen all his life apart from reading about them (that is if he has ever heard about it). I write with the spirit of truth and the various media publishers in Nigeria, London, USA, Ghana, Vienna, Netherlands, etc., publish in the spirit of truth. Nigerians have personally asked that I express their gratitude to them for being a vessel of information and making open what the ordinary masses never knew. I do not just write as a journalist, but also an activist, who advocates for the right things to be done and workers given their due benefits.

Mr. Minister, Nigerians are the ones dying not your children, they are the ones suffering, not your immediate relatives. These medical workers you know as I know do not truly feel the pains as the electorate, but must they all die before you tender your resignation honorably? To you Mr. President, we know you don’t give a damn, but don’t you also care that mothers will be made widows, husbands made widowers and parents who probably have their only child in the hospital now will become childless? Dear Jonathan, don’t you care for the loss of loved ones that will occur as you dance etighi with lives of Nigerians who you swore to protect? Is the continuous stay of your Minister of Health more important than the hundreds of lives of Nigerians that are already dying? The court appeal made by the Minister is uncalled for, wicked and delay tactics, aimed at crucifying the citizenry. By the way, what were you thinking when you appointed the minister of health and minister of health (state) from the same NMA? Were you thinking the medical workers are fools who you can ride on and get away with? No, dear President! These are professionals who spent years in the university more than you; these are the men when my grandma had back pain that the Onyebuchi group referred us to, these are the men who without them, my late grand dad would have being buried as a blind man. It is these men who I rush to for test and diagnosis when I feel uneasy.  Oh Jona; these are the very people who when our relations have gone to sleep, leaving the sick in the ward; they in their glowing white uniforms take care of them while the NMA members go to the call room, sit on the sofa, crossing their legs, sipping tea and watching DSTV.

They have not asked for much but harmonization in the health sector as is done all over the world. Nigerians are saying, ‘grant them their prayers that we may not die’. Or have they not elected you and should be able to tell you what to do? If you could sack the defence minister and national security adviser, despite the days of Boko Haram insurgence, who then is the minister of health that you cannot show the way out, due to his nepotism, favouritism, high handedness and incompetence.

No, I refuse to be part of a cheated generation a decayed history and a partaker of oppression. I refuse to be tagged a failure by my unborn generation, who will question my role in this moment of history, such as this. Tomorrow, it just may be my great grandchild fighting this; it might even be yours. Mr. President, this azonto dance with the medical profession is enough; this etighi dance has gone on too long. There is blood on the dance floor already and the cries of the innocent patient who may have been saved by your quick action is ascending and your name is being mentioned. When the day of reckoning comes; what would you answer for these blood?

These little things matter…

Fejiro Oliver, a Journalist can be reached on secretsreporters@gmail.com and +2348026797588 (sms only please). You can now follow on twitter  @fejirooliver86 and Facebook  fejirooliver86

19 Comments

  1. I love ur spirit. keep it up no matter what d truth must b told. The med docs are too pompus jack of al trades master of none (wit exceptn to d ones who ar specialized already)

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    1. Sour belle!who told u…it is too late to study medicine?all dis sour belle is born out of inferiority complex…am sure u originally wanted to study medicine but was too dull to make d cut-off point.

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      1. As matured inndividuals we are not meant to use abussive words.Nurses or no doctors issue,the main concern should be the patients.while caring for a patient it is known worldwide that doctors performs the least,makes prescription and thats all.Nurses owns the patient,that is why ward round are meant for Nurses,doctors and sometimes the phatmacist.Even the so called doctors prescription are meant to be cross checked by pharmacist before dispencing and Nurses before administration.Alot of things happen within the health team that are absurd,mine is that we should make our patients wellbeing the ultimate!.

  2. Much has been said about this and i have only one comment to make. I work in a teaching hospital, i see what this animosity is doing to patient care. The health care system must work as a team for patients to get maximum care. For any team to be effective, there must be a leader of the team. It is only common sense that the medical doctor should be the leader of such a team. I see it as very mean for allied health workers to jeopardise the lives of patients simply bcos they think that they are wrestling themselves from the leadership of the doctor. Hence i have often times seen patients left in a pool of feaces, laboratory requests uneccessarilly delayed, medications not given, bcos the person doing that would be obeying doctor’s instruction by doing that? There is this effort to frustrate the work of the doctor and make him look bad. Doctors have been accused of wanting to take on the role of other health workers but i know that is not true, because they are the ones that would in the first place call in the dieticians, physiotherapists etc to make input in patient management. If they felt they could do i alone, they would not have called these people in the first place. They resent the fact that patients come to hospital and have to be necessarily seen by a medical doctor first who now decides other people that should be part of patient care. They would have prefered that patients go to the labs, tests are run before these patients come to see the medical doctor (like they all do in their private laboratries many times unecessary tests are done, and often wrongly interpreted. Some are even bold enough to go ahead and prescribe medications. Most times these patients come to you worse off. I respect the fact that everyone has professional training but pleaaase all health workers should stick to the limit of their training. No other health professional is trained adequately in pathophysiological processes of diseases except medical doctors, hence they are still yet the only ones with training to diagnose and treat. Let this acrimony stop. Allied health workers should tell the vulnerable public the truth. They themselves don’t hesistate to consult doctors when they are sick so why should they not advise others to do same too.

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    1. So what is this suppose2 mean. Believe it or not, u need each oda4 a perfect job. N u think this has justified ur trampling up on oda heath worker’s right?. Accept dat u are greedy or acula continua

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  3. The problem in the health sector is largely a Public sector challenge because in private hospitals(even those owned by Para-Medics),the health team work harmoniously.Most of our terrtiary hospitals are own and manged by Government which make them look like an extension of the Civil service in a Country where every one sees Government work as a National Cake.This make discipline difficult and professionalism impracticable.

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  4. Corruption is rife is the land, that is the only way anyone would have the audacity and effrontery to publish such blatant propaganda. You Mr Oliver might underestimate the intelligence of the average Nigeria and expect that your poisonous bile will take root in their consciousness but I assure you my fellow Nigerians are intelligent. They know that right from the entry criteria to enter University that only the best are chosen to study medicine and that you cannot compare vast knowledge that a Doctor has to consume just to be able to diagnose a case to that which it takes to qualify for any of the proffessions you are bieng sponsored by. The problem here is that Doctors have been too humble for too long. The wholistic knowledge to manage a patient lies with the Doctor not the Nurse who only knows that when a patient is weak, Dr so and so usually gives this drug, or the lab scientis that can give the organism that causes the disease but doesn’t know the potential side effects of the drug used to manage it, or the Physiotherapist that only got the stroke patient walking after that Doctor saves his life or the Optometrist whose job can easily and flawlessly be done by any Ophthalmologist. Let us all respect ourselves and restrict ourselves to our various areas of specialization and acknowledge who is boss.

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    1. my dear, talking about entry requirement, or jamb cutoff point, a friend of mine paid about #200000 to be admitted, to study medicine, just to be call a doctor, and many others i know about. please kindly use other words to defend your profession.

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    2. If u want us2 restrict ourselves2 our areas of specialization, y d intrusion in2 oda spe. What kind of stupid n corrupt jamb are u even talking abt,plz dnt bring jamb into this case. Lets tell ourselves d truth plz

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  5. Mr Fejiro is just a clown. The real issue is that he is a vivid example of a fellow suffering from inferiority complex. His write-up shows numerous lack of intellectual cohesion and absence of basic intelligence. He even claims that a radiographer does scanning. That shows the magnitude of his ignorance. It is only the patients like him that a radiographer can do ultrasound scan for. Nigeria can boast for more specialists than all the West African countries put together. Yet the Nigerian specialists respect their West African counterparts who reciprocate with commensurate admiration and respect.
    The likes of Mr Fejiro does not have the intellectual capabilities to go to medical school. It is not enough to be brilliant or intelligent to enter medical school, one hasty be hardworking to graduate. His shameful indignation and complimentary comments about medical doctors are not only uncharitable, they are abominable.The allied professionals in the Nigerian health sector are intellectually lazy.
    How can one explain the fact that the public hospital pharmacists have turned themselves to drug dispensers and drug contractors instead of drug manufacture. Most nurses in public hospitals are very rude and saucy. Most of them constitute nuisance to expectant mothers in various labour wards. The training of nurses has been bastardised and yet nursing council closed its eyes. Those with certificates in nursing and midwifery now get phantom degrees through distance learning from open university. What a shame!
    The certificate obtainable on completion of medical laboratory technology aka science suddenly transmute scandalously to a degree only by extension of learning period without expansion of curricula and course content. The end result is half baked semi-illiterate graduates. These are people who deceive the unsuspecting public that they are pathologists. How can you be a pathologist when you are not primarily physician?

    WAY FORWARD
    Nigerians are notorious for running down government-owned enterprises. The list is endless. From Nigerian Railways to Nigerian Airways, to NIPOST to NITEL to NEPA (oh sorry PHCN). Oh I forgot Daily Times and Daily Sketch.
    The solutions are not far from us. The unhealthy bickering in through health sector is alien to the private hospitals.
    The time has come for the public hospitals to be handed over to private outfits for better and result-oriented management. In that wise, employment would be based only on need and promotion would be based on productivity and resourcefulness.

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  6. Consultants and Chief Medical Officers in other Government Hospitals in the Developed World (International best practices/standards).

    We do not need to travel far and wide to know what is happening in other parts of the world because the world has become a global village, all thanks to information technology.
    The conflict in Nigeria health sector has tugged me to search for what is obtainable on the key warring issues in other developed countries. Ideally the Nigeria Health system format is supposed to be compared with that of the Britain(not the American’s) since Nigeria adopted and is using the British educational/health systems; however reference has been made on American health system in this write up, for obvious reason. I deliberately sourced for all information from current and popular international encyclopedia and/or professional websites not hosted by medical doctors.

    Medical/hospital Consultant
    The term or title “consultant” is coined from consultation. It is wise to see the standard definitions of medical consultation; which are:
    Medical consultation is a formal meeting with a medical doctor for discussion or the seeking of advice….{ http://www.en.m.wikipedia.org/consultation(medical)}.
    It is also defined as a procedure whereby, on request by one Physician, another Physician reviews a patient’s medical history, examines the patient and makes recommendation as to care and treatment….. ( http://www.medical dictionary.freedictionary.com/medical consultation).

    In the UK, Republic of Ireland and parts of the commonwealth countries Medical Consultant is the title of a senior hospital-based physician or surgeon who has completed all of his/her specialist training….. {www. en.m.wikipedia.org/consultant (medicine) , http://www.medical dictionary.thefreedictionary.com/consultant(medicine), http://www.gapmedics.co.uk/difference between consultant and a doctor in a hospital }

    Consultant Pharmacist
    In America Pharmacists are broadly grouped into two:
    1. Health system pharmacist
    2. Consultant pharmacist
    The health system pharmacist is hospital-based pharmacist that provides care to patient on healthcare team. They undergo residency training but are not awarded the title of consultant….(www.asph.org).

    Consultant Pharmacists are pharmacist that work as private pharmacist for individual elderly persons or is employed to work in old people homes(institute) to enhance quality of care for all old persons. They are non-hospital staff and do not undergo residency training but write preparation/recertification examinations. They are also called senior care pharmacist… (www.ascp.com).

    In USA Consultant Nurse is a registered nurse who uses expertise as a healthcare provider and specialized training to consult on medical related legal case. They assist attorneys in reading medical records and understanding medical terminology and healthcare issues to achieve the best results for their client. They are non-hospital staff….( http://www.en.m.wikipedia.org/nurse consultant)

    Chief Medical Director (Office)
    This title is used in many countries for the senior government official designated as head of medical services, usually at the national level. He advices and leads a team of medical experts on matters of importance. { http://www.en.m.wikipedia.org/chief medical officer, medical dictionary.thefreedictionary.com/chief medical officer, http://www.ehow.com/chief medical officer, www. gov.uk/government/people/sally-davies}

    Surgeon General
    In the United States and many areas of the British Commonwealth, this title refers to a physician commissioned by government and entrusted with the public health responsibilities.
    In Uk Surgeon General is the senior medical officer of the British Armed Forces… ( http://www.en.m.wikipedia/surgeon general UK/USA).

    Hospital Chief Executive Officer is the highest management position within a hospital in the capitalist countries. He or she is expected to have masters in business Administration, masters in healthcare Administration etc….( in Nigeria such a position is designated as Director of Administration in Teaching Hospitals)……www.degreetree.com/how to become a hospital ceo.

    Health Care Professionals are divided into two broad groups:
    1. Core Healthcare Professionals
    2. Support (Allied) Healthcare Professionals
    The core professionals are doctors, nurses and pharmacists….others, except these three, are allied professionals…… (www.wikipedia.org/allied health professions)

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    1. Archibong i appreciate the search you made. Non physicians in public hospitals have really gone far to misrepresent issues to the public, usually making reference to international community without providing the details. Recent studies in the US have shown that physician run public and private hospitals performed better in various measures than non-physicians runned hospital and there is ongoing plans to return these hospitals to physicians for proper management, are we not suppose to grow with the world?. ITS funny when non-physicians insist to be made consultants and heads of the medical team, how will a blind lead the sightful, commonsence is that a team leader is one who has vast knowledge of everybody’s job in the team and doctors are well grounded in that. In the 70s government sent alot of drs abroad for specialization reason being that this highly skilled professionals were very limited in the system. These drs came back and nurture the system by training younger generation of drs in various specialties. I did not hear of other professionals in the health sector being sent for similar training except those in the academia. This is so becos physicians are the only ones trained and certify to direct patient care and also take responsibility for eventuality.Unfortunately nigeria govt is now playing down on specialization by awarding consultant status to non physicians from grade level 12 and above.This is going to impact negetively in patient care and in the long run shortage of real consultant specialist in the different specialties.becos no dr will spend time, energy and his resources doing residency training while others sit down and by promotion are made consultants. I strongly suggest as a test run hospitals should set up two parallel consultancy services one by physicians and the other by non-physicians and let patients make their choice of who to consult and i bet you can only imagine the outcome.

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  7. It is only medicine dat stands as far as u are concern . Shame on u. U talked abt nurses, what abt docs arrogantly frustrate women in labour,those who give overdos2 babies wc result2 death n u detached d prescription signature of d doc n reassure d relatives without telling d truth n cover it up as usual. God is watching u

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  8. Tega bros!! You go find those your brethren to treat you naa. I’m sure the beating you received has cleared the confusion in your befuddled mind.

    Kai! 50 million??? Bros, why naa?

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    1. Mr Fejiro is absolutely right. No single tree can form a forest. All of us no matter what we read and our profession need each other.

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      1. Well, talking about engineering as you mentiond, they all spent 5yrs in their various engineering div.not to be compared to the health sector where some spent 4years,5 and 6 years…some even up to 10yrs or more. And you want them to make those who spent 4yrs.CMDs over those who spent up to 10yrs….i mean…think!

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