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Sam Udom Asserts: JAPA Isn’t the Culprit – LUTH Closes 5 Wards Amid Doctor Shortage

November 30, 2023


RE: Japa: House of Reps Sound Alarm as LUTH Forced to Close 5 Wards Due to Severe Doctor Shortage

Sadly, one has to comment on the nation’s unpreparedness. This time, it’s in the medical field; specifically Lagos University Teaching Hospital (LUTH).

Apparently it has dawned on the legislative branch of government that we are in dire need of doctors. I wonder what gave the game away. Could it have been the constant recruiting of Nigerian doctors by foreign hospitals or the fact that Nigerian presidents (past and present) use British, French and German hospitals as their go-to places when sick?

Chief Medical Director of LUTH, Professor Wasiu Adeyemo urged Nigerians to patronize its cancer center. His reason: foreigners are doing so. Perhaps Dr. Adeyemo ought to expend his salesmanship on present and former leaders of his nation. He also thanked the House of Reps and the federal government “for the supports LUTH enjoys in providing quality healthcare for Nigerians.”

I’m not sure how convincing the director made his case. Did he try to convince those same legislators to change the laws to ensure that Governors (serving and past) not spend our foreign reserves on medical tourism?

Nigeria is a nation cursed with bad leadership. There have been nothing, but an endless parade of not only selfish actors, but downright wicked souls. Those are appropriate adjectives that are applicable to the useless people at the top of the federal and state levels of government. I’m not sure when it finally occurred to Dr. Amos Magaji that we have a crisis. He is the chairman of The House of Representatives Committee on Health that raised concerns over the decline in the country’s health manpower.

I find that alarm to be too little, too late. Blaming JAPA for this shortage is like blaming the fox for the poor egg production at a farm.

It is the responsibility of the federal government to ensure that mitigating factors are in place to adequately ensure the proper ratio of doctors to patients. My goodness! There’s a threshold that nations (especially the Europeans) all over the world use to guard against shortages.Those countries make it part of their national policies to hire from abroad.

Nigeria happens to be a prime place to hire doctors and nurses. That tells me something about our medical schools. It’s interesting that our politicians don’t seem to share the same trust in our medical doctors. Could the problem be less about the personnel, but more to do with the equipment and medical facilities?
Dr. Magaji needs to go back to his committee and do some honest and collective soul-searching.

Things never used to be this bad. I remember when Nigeria had Filipino and Indian doctors in our hospitals. I remember seeing Gen. Yakubu Gowon visiting the military hospital not far from Obalende for his medical check-up. That’s the mark of patriotism. Buhari spent millions on trips to the U.K. for medical care. Babangida did the same to German hospitals. As insulting and irresponsible as those two were; in typical wasteful Nigerian style, insults were added. There had to be delegations of “well-wishers” boarding private or state planes to London or Berlin to visit those men. I used the word “wicked” to describe those so-called leaders. The question that came to mind was this: how many British and German heads of states came to Nigeria seeking medical assistance? Our erstwhile leaders certainly succeeded in dragging the nation through the mud. Shameless.

Nigeria is a nation with millions of people; a large percentage living below the poverty line. These are people who can not afford Aspirin or Panadol for headaches. Thousands die every year from malaria and typhoid.

Typhoid vaccine was discovered in the late 1800s. I received it as a child in Nigeria. It was a required entry on the Yellow Card before proceeding abroad. Sadly today, Nigerian medical laboratories look for typhoid infection every time malaria is diagnosed. I keep wondering how female mosquitoes became carriers of the typhoid fever.

Dr. Amos Magaji, it seems you really have your work cut out. You and your committee need to work with the other lawmakers in Abuja to correct the wrong decisions made at the state levels. State Assemblies must reverse the insane retirement packages given to ex-governors. Nigerians who have worked hard for decades get pittance (and go years without their pensions remittances). Those patriotic Nigerians have access (if at all) to less-than-adequate medical care. Your hospitals (to put it charitably) are less than adequate. They are substandard. Preventive care is the best form of medicine. Stop your leaders from taking medical trips abroad. Make better use of the money saved to build and equip the hospitals for Nigerians. They deserve better healthcare!!

Sam Udom is a Public Affairs Analyst and writer.

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