In Defence of Nigerian Doctors (1)

IN DEFENCE OF NIGERIAN DOCTORS

I have read so much about the lack of competence of Nigerians who successfully trained as medical doctors in local institutions. Some of my friends are rather obsessed with putting medical professionals down. Just this morning, one of those half – baked essays showed up on my timeline, breathing a life of its own. I am not sure a well researched rebuttal will starve it of air and put it out of its misery.

Onyeka Nwelue is a friend of mine. I was saddened reading these things from him. I think he should know better than ridicule Nigerian graduates at the least opportunity, especially if he claims to be aware of political realities.

According to Prof Onyeka, “The doctors are USELESS. There is nothing for them. The hospitals are not equipped. How did they graduate? Almost what every Nigerian doctor knows is how to diagnose people of malaria. Once, a Nigerian doctor told me I had typhoid, while I had ectopic kidney. I had to get the help of Indian doctors. Let us look at our President. He is not attended to by Nigerian doctors, but every year, we stay busy, graduating doctors. Our parents too, send their children to Ukraine to study medicine. All the time.”

If I may be so bold, these statements are an utter load of bullshit.
In this age and time, what does it take to visit the WHO sites where information on globally recognised medical schools are published? A quick search for the University of Nigeria Faculty of Medicine on the World Directory of Medical Schools promptly reveals that the institution has been active since 1970,ia fully accredited, and that credentials of its graduates are acceptable to medical organizations in Canada and the United States. The accrediting organisation in Nigeria, the MDCN, also maintains a list of 31 fully accredited, as well as 6 partially accredited medical training institutions.

What does this tell us? Our graduates possess world standard qualifications, albeit against so many odds. The average medical graduate trained in Nigeria, must learn life saving procedures even if only improvised equipment are available to them. This brings us to the pertinent question of health policy in Nigeria over the years. How much, or should I say, how little does the political establishment budget for healthcare annually? The Nigerian health system is one of the least funded in the world, in terms of percentage of annual budget set aside for health, as well as health expenditure per Nigerian person.
Please bear in mind that the WHO recommends a minimum of 13 percent of the budget for healthcare.

In 2014, Nigeria planned to spend 3.7 percent of its budget on health. In the same year, only countries like South Sudan, Madagascar and Angola spent less on healthcare. South Africa spent 8.8 percent. Namibia spent 8.9 percent. Rwanda spent a fabulous 7.5 percent. Was it not in 1994 that they emerged from the throes of a genocidal war? Even Mauritania outspent Nigeria in 2014.

How do other nations stack up? The US leads the pack with 20 percent of its annual budget dedicated to health in 2015. Germany had 19.4%. Turkey budgeted 10.6 percent; China, 12.6 percent and Iran 17.5 percent. Iran was under the crushing weight of economic sanctions! How much did we earn from oil in 2014?!

In fact, in 2016, countries like Rwanda, Botswana, Malawi, Zambia and Burkina Faso spent at least 15 percent of their respective national budgets on health. That is mind blowing progress.
This year, Nigeria decided to spend a miserly 4.17% of Budget 2017 on health, or ₦304 billion, equivalent to a mere ₦1688 per citizen ($4.22 per person). Comparatively, the United States is spending at least $7000 per American, including prisoners. The UK NHS is spending a whooping £1962.9 billion pounds. We aren’t spending up to a billion pounds in 2017! We are 180 million – strong. The UK has only 65.2 million residents!

Tell you what? I think these self – confessed educated Nigerians who have made it their duty to question the qualifications of the medical community are as illiterate as they come. Being able to string words together might have been the hallmark of education in the 90s. In 2017, ‘literate’ illiteracy is rampant. Supposedly educated people who make silly declarations for 2 minutes of online fame, come a dime, a dozen. Of course they have nothing to fear. Their ignorance precedes them. We will always respect their rights to spew rubbish in the name of public activism.

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