Who takes care of our doctors?


by ndubuisi edeoga

We are happy about all the positive posturing by the new minister of Health. We are happy about his utterances so far. We await the outcomes….

While we wait for him to walk the walk, we would continue to add to his “to do” list, with our growing list of health related problems and concerns.

Let’s leave the sphere of physician kidnappings, the much talked about issues of physician assisted death or deaths due to negligence, the ever present polio cases, the perennial malaria, the lack of roadside assistance for accident victims and for once talk about these species on the extinction list in Nigeria.

The doctor-patient ratio stands at 28/100,000, which breaks down to one doctor to 3,572 Nigerians.

I got off the phone with a physician friend of mine practicing in Nigeria. He was watching the champion’s league semi-finals and suddenly started bleeding from the nose. He finally had to go to the Emergency Room when he could not stop the bleed. Final diagnosis was high blood pressure, really high systolic of about 230/ and diastolic of about 110 and yes mmHg! (230/110mmHg). If you are a physician and you are reading this article please take a moment and go get your blood pressure checked and come back and finish.

Apparently he had not checked his blood pressure for the past 10-15years, even though he has a family history of high blood pressure in both parents.

When a doctor does not have time to care for himself, how can he have the time to care for his patients adequately. Some people might say that the doctors as so engrossed in caring for their patients that they do not have time to care for themselves, well same thing.

It gets even worse for the Nigerian doctor, If he is not worried about his next salary because of strike, he is worried about being kidnapped, if he has his own personal protection, then he might be worried that there would be no light to effectively use the equipments supplied by VAMED to care for his patients.

What is the state of post exposure prophylaxis, what existing laws and protocols exist for our doctors. Especially for areas with high prevalence of HIV infection.

What rules and provisions are made for continuing medical education (CME) for our doctors?

What is the role of the Nigeria Medical and Dental council (NMDC), apart from collecting annual practicing dues, in making sure our doctors are regularly updating their knowledge base? Do you require CME credits or some extra knowledge or education before you can renew your license or is practicing medicine enough to keep practicing medicine? (Pardon my tautology).

With the high cell phone usage and increasing tele-density in Nigeria, my grandmother in the village even have a cell phone (actually 2 cell phones MTN and Glo). Is it time to start looking at the e-medicine/tele-medicine model that has worked in some other countries? When one doctor has to take care of 3,572 patients, I guess he needs all the help he can get….but …but …how do we thinkk of e medicine without electricity???

Where do we start?…where?


Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful committed people can change the world; indeed it is the only thing that ever has…Margaret Mead

Discussion1 Comment

  1. I hope yr friend is winning the HBP battle. Time just flies perhaps expalins why many do not seem to take time for the most important thing. Self. TeleDoctor? I am concerned about this future. It does sound sensible but it is not the tech that is the issue but the people. I would be glad to get the basic health care resolved and use teleDR as a compliment. But then again we could create a certified mobile number alternative. There are possibilities. Lets chat some more.

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