Plight of doctors and other stories

Plight of doctors and other stories

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Three massive events took place in the past month. The three events are as important and interlinked as you can imagine.

However, we do not have the luxury of time or space to emphasise how monumental  they are.

The AGPMPN conference

The long-awaited Annual General Meeting and International Scientific Conference of the Association of General and Private Medical Practitioners of Nigeria held in Abuja last month.

I did promise to write about the big event in order to underline the highlights of the meeting.

First, let me state for the record that not a single abstract of quality was received for the conference.

As the Chairman of the Scientific Committee, this was particularly troubling since it emphasises the fact that very little audit and research is going on in our esteemed private and of course, public hospitals.

There was no abstract worthy of presentation at such an august gathering attended by the minister of state for health and the wife of the President. A real shame!

Regardless, we did put up a good show through panel discussions by specialist consortia on the various subthemes of the meeting.

For example, the Tuberculosis Consortium led by Prof. Lovett Lawson and key members in the National Tuberculosis and Leprosy Control Programme were outstanding in the delivery of vital information on TB.

What do you know?

Tuberculosis remains with us a killer and all hands must be on deck to confront this menace. Simple tests are now available using sputum to detect TB.

Treatment is effective if started promptly. TB is on the increase.

The members of the AGPMPN must collaborate with the programme to increase the coverage and accessibility to both diagnosis and treatment.

The Malaria Consortium was put together by Dr. Chikwe Ihekweazu, an epidemiologist and consultant public health physician. He was supported by a fearsome cast of lecturers led by Dr. Nnenna Ezeigwe, the National Coordinator of National Malaria Elimination Programme.

What do you know?

The panel stressed the importance of diagnosing malaria before treatment. There is a diagnosis kit that can confirm malaria or not with almost 99 per cent accuracy.

So, please do not treat malaria just for the fun of it and perhaps out of laziness or pressure from ignorant people. Confirm, then treat. If not diagnosed as malaria, look for other causes to treat. This is more efficient and will save lives.

Finally, we had the formidable might of the National Agency for the Control of AIDS on our panel of HIV.

Let me restate that the law makes it illegal to discriminate against people based on their HIV status.

It also prohibits any employer, individual or organisation from requiring a person to take an HIV test as a precondition for employment or access to services.

Eliminating the stigma surrounding HIV and AIDS, encouraging easy access and freedom for widespread testing with subsequent early treatment is paramount to halting the spread of HIV.

The other BIG news

Six doctors from Ekiti State and their driver died on a recent trip. The team was going to attend the recent Nigeria Medical Association AGM in Sokoto. They died when their vehicle somersaulted due to  a burst tyre.

One of the doctors actually made it to a hospital near Kaduna. Sadly, there were no doctors on duty. The nurses were pretty clueless to manage a road accident victim. Finally, there was nothing available to actually use to save his life.

I have asked doctors before: ‘Can your hospital save you?’ If you were taken to the hospital where you work, would there be staff with the requisite training and equipment to save you? If they cannot save you, they cannot actually save anyone. Herein lies the real tragedy for us all.

I hope the irony is not lost on you, my dear readers, even if the government might not understand what this means. Simply, our hospitals are ill-equipped to save lives. Also,  our attitude to work is appalling. More so, when no one is looking. We need change.

The final BIG news

Emeritus Professor Nimi Briggs called the other day to inform me that a worthy compatriot, an eminent citizen, an excellent human and a doyen of physiotherapy, died at the weekend.

Apparently, she was struck by cancer a few years ago and fought valiantly. She never let anyone know as she battled hard, with a straight face, keeping faith and stoic resistance.

You would never know she was going through the fight of her life as she carried on working, ministering to her patients with muscle and joint problems.

  • A lioness, Dr Bridget Birabi, has left the building.

 NB: May God repose the souls of our dearly departed and grant them entry into paradise

PUNCH.

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