Monday, 21 July 2014

Dear Nigerian Doctor

Hey lovelies
It's been over 3 weeks now since doctors in Nigeria embarked on a strike and to attempt to say how saddening this is, would be me searching endlessly for these words that can capture my true feelings. I was reading about the current NMA strike in Nigeria and my mind could not help putting together the implications. 

I have a lot of doctors working in Nigeria in my networks, hence I was opportuned to read some of their comments that got me really disturbed. When I tried to read some of  the ones from the nurses, the issues really stood out. The worst part is the fact that some of the demands by both parties (NMA and JOHESU) have a lot of discrepancies that have continued (and will continue) to cause conflicts of interests. However, I noticed this huge gap that needed to be bridged and I decided to put this piece together.

It might seem biased because I pointed out a lot of truths that most people will want to neglect because they are on the other side of this whole argument but I decided to direct this one to the doctors, most especially because they are the ones on strike. When it comes to facing issues, it is always best to face the truths and aim to tackle the real problems. I would like to go ahead and join the bandwagon and talk about the trending opinions, but I decided to take a closer look at the real situations in the hospital settings in Nigeria while attempting to step into the shoes of the nurses and try to relate with their pains and I think it would be a good starting point to address some of these issues. 

The medical profession is a selfless profession and that is why you go through all the rigors of transforming you into that kind of person that can work under extreme pressure with the long curricula of work and years of Education. It is not to make you feel like the superior one in the society by going through 6 years of education. It was deliberate to transform you into the kind of person believed a medical doctor should be (patient, selfless, well informed, versatile, equipped, etc). If that is not what you are up for, then you definitely missed it with your career choice. Again, I repeat, the years of education was not to make you feel like a "'god". That is far from the aim.
Last time I checked, everyone in the health sector is important. Pharmacists in Nigeria also go through long years of education for their basic first degree, so trying to imply you are better than every other person by going to school for 6 years is a very wrong way to think. Every profession matters and the trainings are all tailored to what is required of the profession and this is what most doctors in Nigeria miss. You are not there for the status, you are there to save lives. If you want a profession that is based on status and hierarchy, there are so many in the university that can fit that scope perfectly. There are also masters concentrations and specializations to fit your specific dreams. There is nothing wrong with identifying your passion, everybody must not follow the same route. But if it is within medicine, be sure it is in line with what medicine is meant for. Find a passion and stick to it. It is a multi disciplinary field. Every discipline matters. Trying to show the world that you are better by striking doesn't prove anything. If the nurses strike today, their impact will be felt too. It doesn't mean they are better, It just means that every system needs every discipline working in their different capacities to make for a functioning one. Even if taxi drivers in town decided to strike, their impact would be felt too.

For most health professionals in Nigeria, the passion is far from what health care is about. For instance, the belief that medicine is a pedestal to reach this perceived exalted position portrays the thought process of a narrow minded person. I think the oath of office should be interpreted well for all health care professionals in Nigeria and everyone should be made to understand exactly what their profession entails and what they are committing themselves to. 
I am not saying it is completely inevitable to go on strikes, I am just saying it shouldn't be every now and then, especially not for very trivial issues. 
How will having consultant nurses deter the progress of medicine in Nigeria? If I remember well, nurses provide home care services and are usually the first point of call sometimes e.g. during deliveries. As far as health care in most countries is concerned, nurses play a vital role. Undermining them in anyway is very wrong.

Also, Doctors should understand that becoming a CMD should not be seen as a right or a priority for anyone. If you end up as one, count it a rare privilege and concentrate on the things that matter. At the end of the day, truth be told, not every doctor will have the climax of their career as a CMD, so again concentrate on asking yourself why you really chose medicine. 
I would like to keep this within context but it is extremely worthy to note how external factors fuel this menace. It has already been highlighted that an average Nigerian thrives by finding those titles that can suggest that he is better than his peers. You see people trading their values in exchange for chieftaincy titles and other seemingly high class positions in the society and this is very common in Nigeria. It is ridiculous when you see the tussle for power make its way to a field where selflessness is key. We need to try and rise over this way of thinking, if we must succeed. 

We need every discipline to try to embrace, respect and motivate each other to achieve desired goals. 
Every time health care professionals strike, lives are lost. We take take several steps back with our health targets. Shouldn't this be a concern for anyone that swore to an oath to save lives? Most of the problems the whole world is trying to tackle today to achieve the millennium development goals are concentrated in Africa. We should be concentrating as a country to elicit the necessary efforts needed to push some desired changes, rather, we find things getting worsened each day by problems caused by the same people that should be trying to find remedies. I will continue to say that as Nigerians, we are well blessed in Africa. We do not have natural disasters. What we have instead are groups of people deliberately killing others. How can that even make anyone sleep well at night? How can doctors sleep well knowing that the lives they promised to save are being wasted everyday? I think because we do not pay a lot of attention to research and statistics, we fail to compare the different mortality rates of so many countries with that of Nigeria to really understand how far behind we are. 

What can we do? Some of us understand that if anything can be achieved, we have to put sentiments aside and continue to work relentlessly at achieving what we consider best for us. 
I would love to see health care professionals form allied groups and see how they can forge ahead to tackle the huge setbacks within their capacities and not wake up everyday to stories of how one group or the other is seeking ways to push their selfish interests, leaving innocent lives to suffer for it. This is so far from what you'd expect from people that are supposed to be advocating against this sort of attitude towards life in the first place.

I checked some of the rants and threads where the conversations were raised and some of the comments by some doctors weakened me. Some of them said things like "we are the gods, if you want to come dine with us, get an MBBS". I was just imagining how this really played out in the hospital environment. How can you have a real working relationship like this? It is just something that if you trigger this feeling in people, you just have to be ready for the consequences. How do you work in harmony to treat a patient when there are these kind of superiority and inferiority complexes hovering around? In my opinion, that is exactly what is happening now in the Nigerian Health Sector. I see people who are just tired of being treated scornfully fighting for something that can make them feel just as important. If everyone aims to get an MBBS, the system will collapse. If people feel terrible working in any of the roles, then they will simply be a scarcity in those roles. It doesn't matter the parties involved here. Doctors and nurses alike, they all want the same things at the end of the day - dignity of labour. Nobody wants to feel humiliated, marginalized or cheated. This is something simple communication can resolve.

 Finally, I think the authorities should spell out the criteria for these positions and whoever meets those criteria should be allowed to serve. That I believe is the job of the policy makers in Nigeria. If you asked for a personal opinion, I would say as "superior" as you think the MBBS is, sometimes the MBBS is usually not enough. Note! six years of education provides you with clinical know how,  key word clinical! Some capacities would require more than clinical expertise. Having an MBBS might not automatically make you the best man for the job, this is what we should all understand. That should not disrupt what you can do within your capacity at the end of the day, except you just do not understand what your career is about. If the requirements for any position highlight the need for an MBBS, then that should be well communicated to all the parties involved. If it does not, then there should be other things that are being looked out for and those should be promoted as the standing rule. All these should be made transparent for everyone to understand the required terms to avoid these recurrent strikes in future.

I am not here to talk about hierarchy and politics, because this is not what this is about. I am more concerned with the disorganization that has continued to lead to the loss of lives everyday in Nigeria.
For as long as we continue to push the sentiments and ignore what matters, we will continue to run around in circles and we will continue to pay with people's lives. Now that  should be a major concern for everyone. 
But let's not forget, you are supposed to save lives and not find the slightest opportunity to destroy them. 

Have a fruitful week lovelies
Whatever you do, make sure you touch someone's life positively and not otherwise

Love always
Twitter/Instagram: @janylbenyl

Photo credit: Source


  1. Blessings....
    Its a challenge with doctors and nurses go on strike. "The innocence is always the causality of war."

  2. Hello Ms JB, to say the Doctors in Nigeria do not care about the Oath on life they swore upon occupying their status of "MD", is to say the least. Most of the guys who serve as doctors are selfish Egoistic Nit-twits, who believe they are superior to every one else.

    As a Young and Still confused man, I witnessed a lot of Arrogance from these Medical students at University level. You see thats the birth place of the arrogance and pride they exude. These guys are brain washed to believe they are suprior to others, as they were placed in better learning structures than others, and in their minds, they were placed on a kinda high pedestal, like the statue of Zeus, looking down on others as mere mortals, and they as demi gods. Sadly their lecturers fuelled these thoughts also, rather than correct it. Like you said, blog mother, every profession is of high importance, and none is more important than the other, but sadly the Nigerian society fails to understand that.

    Its sad that neither parties involved in this strike care that people are actually dying. I once experienced a case when a patient died in Owerri, while the Almighty DOCTORS held brief meetings. It was sad, I mean which is more important? Life, hierachy and organization, or Money?

    In Nigeria, nothing really works, and the Government are as careless as the striking bodies on this one. I stand to be corrected, but I dont believe that Obama of the USA would allow the U.S Medial association be on strike for this long without reaching a sort of comproise by now. Janyl, truly i weep for this country, as nothing works, and the way i see it, nothing will.

    PS: My Sister just graduated from Med school, and we are all so very proud of her. We pray that she dosnt be like the Doctors before her.. (heheheheh I just had to add this PS now, I am so proud of her **Winks)

    Cheers Ms JB, as usual, this post had me thinking on how we could make life in Nigeria better, it was indeed an enlightening post. It is well.

    1. Congrats to your sister!
      I have met some very nice Nigerian doctors as well. I would like to restrain the anger and remember not to generalize. It is so annoying and sad tho.
      It boils down to the tenets that guard everyone as individuals.
      If I were to judge from my interactions with you, I'd say your sister will make a good doctor.
      Humility plays a huge role. You know when you have to look at people that are so vulnerable and they are waiting on you to save them? it can mess with ones head. I hope the folks in Nigeria can fix this before it gets to the point where they have to pay hugely for it

  3. Hi JB, nice blog I must say. As a student nurse, I'm not trying to be on the sides of the nurses but I must say the truth. Doctors are very arrogant people - not all - and I believe the school has a role to play. For instance, in my school, medical students eat in a separate cafeteria and stay in the best hostels. Why is that? They say or recite their oaths just because they need to but after getting the certificate, all those become history. They want to be worshipped and served like a god. Truth is we all are a team. Doctors can't work without the nurses or pharmacists and vice versa. We are a team and we have to remember that to achieve a goal. If God can work as a team with the Son and the Holy Spirit, who are we as mere mortals? A lot of lives are at risk just because of a minor issue. Anyway, as the old adage says, when two elephants fight, it's the ground that suffers. But should the ground be a life? If you can't create one, why contribute to the loss of one? We all should remember that we will be held accountable for our actions when we get to the Gate. We all are contributors directly or indirectly. The government should emphasize the importance and essence of the oath. We are shouting Boko Haram everyday, what's the difference now? We know the problem of Nigeria, it's up to us to make a change *mic dropped*

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