HEALTH IS WEALTH? NOT SO, NOT IN AFRICA

Each time I have meet the medical personnel in Nigeria, I have hardly been impressed with their services and most importantly, their attitude, except for very few outliers I have come across.

My recent health challenges, which again put me face to face with these personnel in our country Nigeria again left my impression of disappointment and skepticism intact. It is another case of Nigeria happening to its inhabitants.

Few years ago, I had come down with severe abdominal pain. I was being rushed to our family hospital but because the pain was excruciating, I was checked into one of the biggest private hospitals in our highbrow Lagos area. I saw a doctor and was sent to a diagnostic center for preliminary and immediate investigation after I have been placed on a medication to suppress the pain. The diagnostic center claimed that the problem was acute appendicitis. My wife, who was viewing the machine when my abdomen was being scanned, being science oriented questioned the person manning the investigation as politely as she could. He became very angry and defensive. He refused to respond to our questions.

Arrived at the hospital, the doctor looked at the ‘result’ and concluded that I was due to be put under the knife immediately to forbid the acute appendicitis from rupturing. I did not have a particular opinion and would ordinarily accept the ‘medical opinion.’ But my wife again said to the doctor, you know there is no such thing as a minor surgery, except it is necessary. She then requested for a second opinion of another abdominal scan. The doctor did not want to have any of that. I had no strength to insist but Olufunmilayo did. It was not convenient, but she encouraged me to endure the pain.

The hospital practically threw us out and my wife on her own took me to another diagnostic center. They found no acute anything. We later took the report of both scans to our family hospital and the doctor agreed with the second report. To avoid taking chances, our doctor referred us to a teaching hospital in Lagos. They also agreed with the second opinion and found that what I had was an ulcer. 12 years now, I am yet to be operated based on the first report. But for the insistence of my wife, I would have been opened and we would not have been told that it was done in error.

Again, this time, I don’t think most medical personnel in Nigeria are aware that what stands between a patient and his/her life is their diligence. Let me share one of the many experiences I had this month in Nigeria. I was scheduled for a colonoscopy in one of the biggest diagnostic centers in Lagos on June 13, 2022. I was prepared for the procedure and given some medication 3 days before. I got the diagnostic center on the day of the procedure to discover that I did not get the complete dosage of the preparatory medication. I met someone being prepared for the same procedure and I found the loophole. I immediately expressed my concern to the nurse conducting the preparation for that patient. She requested to consult with the doctor and revert. She did revert, asked me some questions and informed that the missing medication was inconsequential in view of my response to some questions she was asked to ask me.

Getting in for the procedure, face to face with the doctor, concerned about the integrity of the result that may proceed in view of what I considered a lapse, I asked again why the medication I discovered was missing was not added and the implication thereof. The countenance of the doctor change as he mildly raised his voice, ‘what difference does that make?” I responded, ‘I don’t know that is why I am asking you.’ His response was ‘since you don’t know why you are asking.’ Before I could make further comments, the procedure began. I asked other questions while signing the consent form for the procedure and these people’s sensibilities were repellant to asking questions. I have not seen a defensive lot like these men and women in a long time. Asking questions about a test, which results were critical to your life and health were considered an abomination.

Though the test came back with a ‘negative’ result, I already had my doubts and had decided on a second opinion bur not without petitioning the management of the diagnostic centers. It is not that I expect them to take a decision so different from what I saw center. I believe the attitude of the people at the center reflects the dominant value system of the organization. Thoroughness is a major key to any medical investigation. It is something a medical examination cannot afford to lack, yet it is what was lacking in the test that I did, and the so-called medical personnel did not feel obligated to explain to me as a patient doing a procedure as delicate as colonoscopy. I was slated for the procedure at 1.30AM and I was not called in until like 2 hours after and that was because I protested seriously.

I rest my case here as I call on all and sundry to be vigilant as they use medical services in Nigeria. Many are in their graves today because of dereliction of duties on the side of medical personal. If I write today about those of us who can access some level of medical services because we have some means, what about legion of the inhabitants of the land, who have no access to basic healthcare services?

I guess, we have a common denominator of Nigeria happening to us all but in different dimensions and flavour. Both leave bitter taste in the mouth of the tester and invites us to agitate of an egalitarian society.

Do have an INSPIRED week.

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