The Dearth of Medical Professionalism in Nigeria, Flogging a Dead Horse?‎ —By Simon Utsu


Simon Utsu|20 April 2017 
Whenever we encounter tragedies, we should learn to control emotions, watch our utterances and channel energies from such unpleasant experiences into stuff that will yield positive fruits in the future. 
What I'm writing now was inspired by the lamentations of a Nigerian born doctor working in the NHS(UK) who has been cursing Nigeria as a country on her social media account since she heard of the demise of her good friend. The deceased died due to the usual negligence that occurs in most Nigerian hospitals(public&private). It was an avoidable death but no thanks to our nonchalant medical personnel, what was supposed to be a routine medical procedure somewhere in a hospital in Imo state, sent her to the next world. The lady in question was also a Facebook friend of mine, a very lively and intelligent young woman. Sad that she had to go just like that. 
It's always painful when we lose loved ones especially under such circumstances. I use this opportunity to throw the challenge at the tens(if not hundreds) of thousands of Nigerian specialists doctors in the United Kingdom(especially), Europe, middle-east, America etc to unite and come up with contingency plan(s) that would repair the systematic rot and save medicare in Nigeria. Most Nigerian trained doctors lack the x-factor needed to turn the health system 'back on its feet', reason why I'm looking up to Nigerian born doctors practising abroad whose professionalism, dedication and skill aren't in doubt. I'm not saying this to spite Nigerian doctors without foreign training or experience, I'm just saying the undiluted truth based on personal experience and the little exposure I had abroad. 
Most Nigerian trained(based) medical doctors lack the basic professionalism, passion and emotions needed to attend to human beings. There's this air of arrogance some(especially the young ones) move with and it can only be subdued if/when they undergo some kind of training in a foreign land where a very high premium is placed on human lives. I made friends with a lot of Nigerian doctors during my brief sojourn in the UK and observed a number of them(who had it in them before) shed the aura of arrogance associated with medical practise in Nigeria and transform to world class professionals within a short space of time. And whenever Nigerian doctors abroad inculcate this, they always turn out the best doctors amongst their peers due to the Nigerian spirit in them. 
I'm not totally writing off Nigerian doctors, I'm only saying a huge percentage(say 70%) have been overwhelmed(or subdued) by the 'anything goes' Nigerian system. Such doctors no longer understand the meaning of the Hippocratic Oath which they 'swore' to during their induction. These 70% are usually found in government hospitals and they're the ones giving the system its nasty image.
On one occasion, my Dad was nearly slapped by a young medical doctor for 'daring' to interrupt him during a supposed tete-a-tete. His sin: he suggested a medical formula/procedure for his child who was the patient-in-waiting based on his medical history. I lost a brother about ten years ago because the clinic inside the University of Calabar campus was being mismanaged and not equipped to standard -the medical doctor in charge was busy siphoning monies meant for the running of that clinic for personal use. 
These kinds/level of un-professionalism are unacceptable even in Ghana. Imagine a doctor shouting down the guardian of his patient on flimsy grounds in Europe. That doctor won't only be suspended from practising for some years, he could also be made to pay damages. 
Growing up in Calabar, we had doctors(specialists) like Dr Asindi(paedetrician), Dr Udosen(plastic surgeon), Dr Oscar Umoh(orthopaedist) returning back from abroad after years of practise(or study) to help sanitise/stabilise the system. The trio stood out and gave so much back to the society. If not for Doctor Oscar Umoh who studied(and I think practised) orthopaedic medicine in Germany, I could have lost the ability to walk at the age of eight. One of my hips had shifted from its socket, I was in serious pains and could no longer walk unaided; there seemed to be no remedy in sight. All the doctors we went to couldn't even interpete the X-ray, when we were eventually directed to (the now late) Dr Oscar Umoh, he 'finished work' and the rest as they say, is history. 
In summary, I don't know what template they're going to use but I'm pleading with well meaning Nigerian (specialists) doctors practising overseas to have coming back home to establish(or at least train our Nigerian doctors on medical ethics and professionalism) their practise at the back of their minds. That is one of the few ways in which the medical sector in Nigeria can be sanitised.

Simon Utsu 
Is a Social Commentator