My mother, Mutiatu Ayoka AKINLAMI died in Lagos University Teaching Hospital(LUTH) on January 23, 2009 due to the epileptic medical services available there and the cold negligence of the doctors on duty at the time of her death.
I leave as the story for another day, the immense contributions of the private and public health system to the untimely death of my darling mother, which I once shared on my blog and Facebook page on January 23, 2017.
On December 25, 2018, I had followed my beautiful and public-spirited wife to the children ward of the Lagos State University Teaching Hospital on the ticket of one of the Non-Governmental Organisations, where she volunteers.
The NGO focuses on providing care for people living with cancer. As we walked into the children ward, there was little or no care available for those precious living with cancer. From interaction with the medical personnel, it was as if those precious souls were being left to die in instalments.
At LUSUTH during that visit, a woman approached us requesting our help to settle her daughter’s medical bill as they will not be discharged until she was able to settle the accumulated medical bills.
I have handled matters where corpses are kept for months in the mortuaries of private and public hospitals because family members of the deceased were not able to settle the hospital bills that accrued from his/her medical treatment. In some cases such corpses were of children.
Sometimes in 2010, my dearly beloved twin brother had a major health issue and by the time we arrived at the emergency section of LUTH, the place was so filled up that after a long wait, doctors would come out to see outside the ward patients, rushed to the hospital for urgent medical attention. My brother was seen in the car, no vital signs taken and was told there was no bed. I saw patients being seen inside commercial buses and Keke Marwa.
My brother ended up in Gbagada General Hospital, where we ended up at the private session of the public hospital, where we paid per night as if we are in a hotel. It was by divine intervention he received his healing.
My friend’s son had a birth defect in his private part area. His dad took him to a public hospital in the town where they live. He was in quandary when he was given 3 years appointment for an operation. After pressing all the buttons he knew to press, he ended up with one year appointment.
My friend’s mum was diagnosed with the cancer of the colon and she was checked into a public hospital. According to the doctor, it was detected early and a quick medical intervention by way of operation will save her life. The family rejoiced but their joy was short-lived when they were given over 6 months appointment to come back for the procedure.
Then you begin to ask what is the benefit of early detection of cancer in Nigeria? It is important to note that same has been identified as a major plus in cancer treatment the world over.
My dearly beloved brother and friend has an autistic son, who he loves with every fibre of his being and has expended huge resources to find medical and other necessary supports for. He keeps saying to me, ‘Taiwo, if I don’t have the financial resources, what would have been the fate of my son…?’
See, almost everyday, our pysche is inundated with fellow citizens, requesting for financial help to treat terminal and other serious ailments on print, electronic and social media.
The stories I shared above are from my firsthand contacts with those affected. I am sure no Nigerian will be bereft of stories of personal and close encounters of family and friends with our poor and killing health system.
There are also stories of well known Nigerians, who have succumbed to the cold hands of death due to gross mismanagement of their health issues. I was almost a victim of that few years ago but for the vigilance and prompt intervention of my dearly beloved wife. That is story for another day.
It therefore means that the state of health system in Nigeria is the headache of all except the rich few and those who have access to state resources as government elected and appointed functionaries and as friends and cronies of those in government.
So is health really wealth in Third World Nigeria?
If health is wealth, can a nation, which pays little or no attention to the health of its people, who are 87 million poor ever come out the doodlrum of poverty?
Can health we wealth when preventable and childhood diseases still kill our precious children droves?
And if health is wealth, whose health and whose wealth?
Alas, my diary is full and I shall quit this topic till next week, God’s willing when I will wrap it up.
Do have an INSPIRED weekend.
I am your Dearly Beloved Roving Public Interest Lawyer, Taiwo AKINLAMI
(C) 2020 Taiwo AKINLAMI