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Tuesday, October 6, 2015

Re: Physician, heal thyself



Physician, heal thyself. This is the title of the recent joint communique released by Joint Health Sector Unions (JOHESU) and Assembly Of Healthcare Professionals( AHPA). The paradox of the whole scenario is that Nigerian medical doctors are too busy with their patients and further researches to notice these their belligerent neighbours in the health sector.
What do we hear on a daily basis? NMA said this and doctors did that. Surprisingly, my distinguished medical elders have not joined and are not ready to join issues with these their bellicose neighbours in the health sector. Is that not enough to tell this amorphous group that NMA is a noble association, hence, it is not ready to reply people who behave and attack it like motor park touts? This reminds me of the day I was about boarding a flight. My friend mistakenly stepped on a girl. The girl in question started abusing him without first politely drawing his attention to what happened . I was surprised that my friend totally ignored the girl and refused to reply her possibly because the adage that says “never argue with a fool because people may not know the difference”.Disturbed by my friend’s indifferent attitude towards the girl’s ranting, I drew my his attention to the girl but he told me that he ignored her because she was not worth his attention .

This is exactly what my distinguished medical elders are doing in the health sector. NMA makes her demands to the government without joining issues with these paramedical professionals in the health sector .Let us critically analyse this communiqué which forms the subject of our discourse. First, they JOHESU and AHPA accused NMA and Nigerian doctors of being the reason our public officers embark on medical tourism abroad. To them, the pathetic state of our health sector is due to the incompetence of doctors, hence by their recent communique, they advocate that our public office holders should be licensed for medical tourism abroad. What imprudence and impudence? I wrote this amorphous group off the same day they opposed NMA’s call for public/private partnership in our health sector. This proposed partnership is unarguably the bedrock of development of other health sectors in the international community.

I want to ask them if it was Nigerian doctors that equally ran down the telecommunication, power and other sectors of our economy? Was it Nigerian doctors that ran our railway system aground until the twilight of the immediate past administration? Was it Nigerian doctors that destroyed NIPOST, NITEL and other government agencies? An Igbo adage says that it is unfair to leave the anus that farted and give a knock to the head. Instead of blaming past governments, They are busy fighting those that are naturally, culturally, economically, socially, legally, intellectually and morally ahead of them . Is that not an early symptom of frustration? Believe you me, if NMA had come out to suggest that public office holders should be travelling abroad for their medical tourism, these our belligerent neighbours would have come out to issue a communique against that .The anti-medical doctors stance of this amorphous group is proverbial. If NMA comes out to state an obvious fact such as: the sun rises in the East and sets in the West, this amorphous union will fastidiously find a fault in that statement of facts.

Why I am concerned is because I have tested both sides of the divide. I got admission as a paramedical student. In those days, I had this rabid hatred for the ‘real’ medical students. I was the brain behind the agitation that the term ‘paramedical’ should be replaced with ‘Health science’ hence paramedical students should be addressed as Health science students even when Oxford English dictionary clearly defined what the term ‘paramedical ‘ meant. I felt inferior in the gathering of ‘real’ medical students . I hated anything pertaining to Medicine and Surgery. In those wasted years, if a medical student greeted me, I would say he/she wanted to show off his/her ego. More so, if he/she did not greet me, I would simply say he/she was arrogant because of his/her course. Surprisingly, I answered a medical student at home and by extension my friends at home called me ‘doctor’ in advance even when I knew that my then paramedical course could not lead me to becoming a medical doctor. I continued this deceitful and illusionary life for four years in the paramedical course until one day when I came to my senses and took a major decision that changed my life forever. That decision is what our belligerent neighbours in the sector have failed to take till date hence the incessant acrimony in the sector.

The decision I took was simple, I told myself that the highest deceit in life was self deceit. I went further to convince myself that the reason I had rabid hatred for all medical students was because I was in a paramedical course hence I saw myself playing second fiddle to all medical students. I had that inferiority complex in the gathering of medical students. I saw myself being aggressive to medical students just because I felt inferior to them as I was then studying a paramedical course. I attacked virtually all that any medical student did or said while within myself I would prefer that I studied medicine. I hated those who had the opportunity of being in the noble course while I secretly I admired the course as I falsely claimed I was a medical student outside the school premises the same way our belligerent neighbours in the sector claim today in their private lives that they are doctors, exploiting the high rate of illiteracy in our country to go on and treat patients unrestricted .That is the bane of medical practice in Nigeria.

That decision I painstakingly took after four years in the paramedical course saved my life today as I finally changed over to medicine and surgery after wasting four years on the paramedical course. That was the most difficult decision I had taken in this life. Leaving a course I had spent four good years when my mates were at the verge of graduating , for another course my university would compel me to step down to second year and which students could fail out anytime, was not an easy decision to make. I accepted that decision because I was clairvoyant. I did not want to continue living in self-deceit for the rest of my life, attacking people that never did or said anything against me, and at the same time falsely claiming to be studying their course when I was outside the university environment . My experience as a paramedical student informed my knowledge today why these people on the other side of the divide in the sector always attack doctors. They have this hidden slogan that ‘whatever NMA or Nigerian doctors say or do is wrong.’

Surprisingly, my keen observation showed that my distinguished medical elders always ignored and avoided joining issues with them. I have not seen any member of my noble profession or any of our leaders joining issues with these our belligerent neighbours because as my distinguished members will always tell me that we are not in competition with anybody in the sector hence their rantings in the sector are not worth our attention. How can somebody explain their recent opposition to the call by NMA that public office holders should be barred from seeking medical attention abroad? They went on to back their opposition to this good idea with some specious reasons the same way a citizen who wants to evade payment of tax will ask what the government has done for the citizen and gullible minds may easily be deceived with such mendacious reasoning .

I think I will advise them to simply draw inspiration from the personal decision I took many years ago that finally changed my life for good, at least JAMB UTME form is still available in our open market or better still they may as well apply to study Medicine and Surgery through JAMB Direct Entry programme. This is because had I graduated from the paramedical course, I would have been part of this amorphous group in the sector ,deceiving myself in the sector when I secretly and ‘Nichodemously’ wished I had been a medical doctor.

•John 
 writes from Port Harcourt,
 Rivers State state.
mazipauljohn@gmail.com

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