Friday, 15 August 2014


Hello Ladies and Gentlemen,

Today, the federal government of Nigeria waged a war against the medical doctors, in particular, the ones in residency training. This is how the story went down. For more than a month now, the medical doctors in Nigeria have been on strike over many issues. These issues have been highlighted in here. Negotiations have taken place between the federal government and the NMA (Nigerian Medical Association) with no much head way. Then, came ebola disease and the doctors were asked to resume work to help combat the problem. An emergency meeting was held on Wednesday, 6th of August, 2014 by the NMA, from which a rumor spread that the strike has been called off. The next day, that rumor was refuted. It was said that the president of the association made them (people present) cast a vote, from which he drew the conclusion that he favored and walked out on them. It was also said that the doctors present got miffed and started to plan his impeachment. The next story that circulated to the media was that he resigned and he was again re-instated. It was right in the middle of a training that residents who have been on strike received the news of the termination of their appointment.

Initial reaction? Fear! Fear of the unknown, fear of been broke, as it is we aren't earning enough. Questions began to come up, people started making decisions before even analyzing the issues and thinking about the future. Their future, as well as that of their generations unborn. Repeatedly, I have begged for an answer to these questions; What work do those in power do exactly to earn what they earn? How much studying have they done? My single answer? Not much. So pray tell, what gives them the right to make such decisions on issues majority of them have no clue about?

Permit me to take a bit of your time to explain the much needed. The general public believe that doctors are been cruel by going on strike. They believe that the reasons for the strike action are selfish (all we want is more money for ourselves, which by the way, I see absolutely nothing wrong with). Many believe it's just about fighting johesu for who should be the chief medical doctor (that shouldn't even be an issue, to me it doesn't hold water). Follow me down the road a bit more please. Many  people believe that doctors earn so much money, they probably don't have enough bank accounts to hold them. Currently in Nigeria, the federal institutions are the highest paying hospitals followed by the state. I don't work for any of the above named institutions. I work for a private hospital and my salary is about 60-70% of theirs and believe me when I tell you this, many doctors are earning much less. Now, the essence of residency training, is to make you a better doctor so you don't kill all your patients. We have seen that compared to our counterparts abroad, it is not enough to just be a medical officer with no further training. We still have a very long way to go. 

The residency training doesn't just involve going to work and coming back and learning under the supervision of the consultant or professor, contrary to public believe. No!! far from it. We go to lots of updates and revision courses as a requirement for your exams. You write exams at different stages. These courses we attend are not for free, they are quite expensive, and it is not held once a year. This year alone, I have attended 4. The exams you also have to pay for. These courses are held in different parts of the country. If I tell you that in the last two months, I haven't earn a salary, would you believe me? Probably NO. But this is the truth, because even though I am been paid, it all goes into the training. We, residents have to travel to parts of the country where you don't know a soul, in this time of poor security. We have to pay accommodation bills and feed ourselves (especially night meals). When I wrote the primary exams (the exam that qualifies you to start the program) 5 years ago, the fees were approximately N20,000 for revision courses and exams each. Now the courses range from N30000 - N50,000. The exam is N60,000. Did I forget to mention that we have to register with the college and pay yearly dues? We have to pay to renew our licenses every year? After all these payments, if you fail the exam, you start again because the courses expire. Let me not add other personal and family responsibilities (many of us are married with children). So I ask, where is the money exactly? In short, passing out of medical school just places you at the bottom of the very long ladder to achieving your goals.

Amongst the things doctors are fighting for is for a better health care system for us and especially generations yet unborn. For how long will these people who call themselves our leaders continue to ride on us? They or their family members fall sick and they travel out of the country for care. We fall sick, we are left to rot in an almost non-existence  facility. A very good example, my younger brother took ill, the correct diagnosis was made, (already half way there right)? The necessary medicines for treatment were not available in the country. If not for the grace of God and his provision, I would have been one brother short. We had to be flown out eventually, when he was deteriorating and he could do nothing. Not for lack of knowledge, but for lack of resources. Another very good example, the first lady #PatientDameJonathan took ill ( minor illness oh!), she was flown to Germany for treatment. What happened to national hospital? You see these people make laws that don't affect their comfort in anyway. A part of the reason for this strike, is for a better working environment to enable adequate and prompt treatment of the citizens of this country. Of what use am I to you, if I know everything about your illness and can't save your life? The very job I am been trained for. We are at another revision course now, we are given the latest trends in treatment of certain conditions, then we are told "it is not available in the country now". I went to India and I saw things that prior to, I had only read about in those big textbooks. Imagine that. What is wrong in asking for things to be set in place? The average life expectancy of a Nigerian is 54 years, Is that normal?

The public is quick to judge the doctor now, but not so fast, wait until you have successfully trained one, then, watch him/her go out everyday and come back worn out. Wait until you see them been constantly, exposed to different forms of health hazards and you are the one at home praying for their safety. Wait until you have to beg to get a bit of their attention, because they are always in the hospital, working (my parents can attest to this). Then you can judge. I know lots and lots of doctors who basically trained themselves, with no aid from the government I might add. Abroad, there is room to loan and pay back when you start working. Many medical students have to photocopy textbooks from those that can afford it, so that they have what to read. Many residents still continue to do this and it is much worse now, because we have even more books to buy and definitely more responsibilities. 

As residents, we continue to train ourselves while rendering service to the community and this is how we get paid for asking for a better working system. We are under contract, with no guarantee of a full employment when we eventually pass and become consultants. The resident has no right to gratuity. With the outbreak of ebola, the doctors are scared to their bone marrow which is one of the reasons they don't want to go back to work now. The FG is huffing and puffing and issuing threats and sack letters, Have you put systems in place to guaranty our safety? Do you send a soldier into combat without ammunition? The doctor that is currently sick with ebola now in Lagos, what is his hazard allowance? N5,000. What compensation does he or his family get from him being at the war front? Is that N5,000 able to make a dent in his required treatment? Please oh! this is not a case of David vs. Goliath.

My fellow colleagues, this is not the time to start running helter skelter. It is not a time for those not in the training to see it as an opportunity. In this case, "opportunity doesn't come but once". This is not a time to be intimidated by the politicians. This, I say, is a time to come and stand together. They want to dismiss the residency training program, allow them to get doctors from outside the country and see how much more they'll pay them (ask the people and Delta State Hospital, Oghara). Agreed, many may argue that they have not had a place to train since they passed their primary exams, whose fault is that? Many are already planning to apply as locum doctors, let me tell you something you aren't aware of, that is exactly what the FG wants, to tear us down. Don't allow it. You take the job now, under whatever terms and conditions they come up with, what happens down the road a few years later? I tell you brethren! you will pay the price. Today, this offer may sound and look good, what about tomorrow? Do not be like Esau in the bible who sold his birth right for food.

For those who have said "why have doctors not merged together to build a standard hospital in Nigeria to rival the government ones, now you are privy to how much we actually have left at the end of the month. And if not for fights this in the past, doctors would be nowhere today. If the federal institutions can't handle the load of doctors graduated each year, I believe they would do well to reduce the number of medical students admitted each year. But alas, they can't can they? Not with the godfatherism that continues to plague us till this day, the reason many people haven't gotten a space to train after passing, and why some pay institutions to train them (minus all the expenses enumerated above). The governors, senators, ministers, and other rulers have list to submit at every level.

Finally, Is it possible to cancel the postgraduate training in a university? Because that is what stopping residency training implies. ASUU went on strike for 6 months last year, why weren't they sacked? Doctors, this is the time to make use of the social media. It is not only for celebrities and businesses. Tweet, retweet, hasgtag, facebook, google+ share and reshare and let everyone know that we are together. My pipo! (people) na awa (it's our) workshop dem they play with so oh! Afterall, na where you they work, naim you dey chop. Shikena!!!



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