An important point
Recently, the medical personnel at the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation invited a whole pack of medical consultants from India to come see patients in Abuja. They saw and listed as many for medical tourism to India for various treatments. All of this was done at huge expense to the taxpayer. And, of course, to the detriment of our own health care system!
One way we destroy the fabric of our society is related to medical tourism and its effects on the health of the nation. When are we going to learn that charity begins at home and that we need all hands on deck to save lives in Nigeria?
Many, if not all the doctors invited, are not registered to practise medicine in Nigeria, but we disregard the laws and diminish the integrity of our regulatory bodies. No one can go to India or any other credible country and treat their patients without the requisite documents, checks and regulations. Only in Nigeria will foreign doctors come in, do medical missions, consult, medicate and operate on patients without any one being concerned!
The Medical and Dental Council of Nigeria should be actively involved in regulating the sector and securing the limbs and lives of Nigerians. The culpable organizations, such as the Central Bank of Nigeria and the NNPC should be admonished by the regulatory bodies and sanctioned as necessary. But, of course, who will sanction the all powerful NNPC?
Money, money, money
I know the Indians would not come to Nigeria free of charge and must have been paid in advance. Sadly, of course, organisations like these fail to pay their bills for services incurred in local hospitals. Many hospitals are crying out about bills run up by government parastatals without a sense of right and wrong. Yet, when the chips are down and in dire emergencies, they keep turning up at hospitals they haven’t paid and do nothing to support!
To get paid by some of these organisations often leads to the big question, ‘Doctor, what’s in it for me’? Which means, ‘What is my own gain’? ‘Why should I help you get paid for services you have rendered for the health of our organisation’? Of course, many doctors would like to retort, ‘How does paying me (without asking for a bribe or me begging) influence the quality of care rendered in the very near future’?
Check this out! We submitted a proposal to a bank for provision of health screening and fitness for the staff members. This was to inform, educate and teach about stroke, heart attacks and sudden death. The manager thought it was a great idea and likely to be of immense benefit to the staff. However, he suppressed the idea since there was no provision in the calculations to cater for him financially. Apparently, we should have included a percentage of the total costs to accrue to him, yearly, for ‘pushing’ or ‘supporting’ the proposal. That is one aspect.
Okay, let us go into the realm of those who ask for proposals and you give them the proposal. They then proceed to execute it without you. You do not see them again until you meet in the shopping mall or on a flight to Dubai! Sometimes, the ideas are passed off to be carried out by people not trained just so that the ‘bribe’ can be earned. So many contracts are executed, poorly, by relatives, girlfriends and cronies without a thought to posterity. The society suffers for it.
We all lose
So many good ideas are discarded, buried or destroyed on the altar of money in Nigeria. Sometimes, honest companies with integrity or conscientious individuals move the ideas to other areas, or even other countries where it is appreciated and of benefit to the whole community. My dear readers, we cannot build a society based on falsehood and corruption. We keep shooting ourselves in the foot and it is worthy of some serious discussion, as we all lose out, maximally, in the end.
The noble profession
Doctors are gentle creatures imbued with noble objectives, undervalued and with poor business acumen. Doctors, as with people who work in other noble professions, are underpaid. The notion of asking to be paid before service is still anathema to many but the tide is changing. We are gradually being pushed to the wall and some are actually becoming smarter. Some of my friends have gone ahead to obtain further degrees in business administration. For those, the sky is the limit and the rewards earthly. For the rest, your reward is in heaven!
Finally, the fact is that we need to start seeing the Nigerian patient as an opportunist. Like the bully, they hit you and then apologise, only to do it again when the need arises. In their hour of need, the doctor is an angel. Yet, when your own needs arise, all you get is, ‘Doctor, what’s in it for me’? I wish I could say to some, please stick it where the sun does not shine!
Oh, I know, I am a doctor!