6th September, 2012
Media reports in the last few days regarding the health condition of Nigeria’s First Lady Mrs Patience Jonathan raises fresh questions about the Nigerian polity.
The president’s wife is reportedly being treated at a German hospital, for a condition that remains a subject of conjecture. The presidency has not helped matters by shrouding the state of health of Mrs. Jonathan in secrecy – reminiscent of the manner of the handling of the the illness of late former president, Umaru Yar’Adua.
Though the government has failed to come clean on the reason the president’s wife is hospitalised in another country, it has been speculated she is being treated for ‘food poisoning’. Another unconfirmed version has it that she might have been operated upon for ‘ruptured appendicitis’.
Whatever be the case, it is not what she’s suffering from that is the issue, but the fact that the condition could have been treated here in Nigeria, had the government not shown contempt for the country’s health system.
Apart from Mrs. Jonathan, the influential Petroleum and Oil Resources Minister, Mrs. Diezani Alison-Madueke, is also speculated to be currently receiving medical treatment abroad.
The situation that sees government functionaries jetting abroad at the slightest feeling of ill-health makes mockery of our health system, because some of those cases could have been attended to here had the officials not allowed the health system to rot away over the years.
While rich public officials embark on medical trips abroad, ordinary Nigerians are left to bear the brunt of the mess in our hospitals due to wanton neglect of the facilities.
Most of our medical centres remain an eyesore with obsolete equipment, inadequate basic drugs and an over-stretched personnel. Hapless patients thus continue to die needlessly because of government neglect of healthcare.
The government routinely mouths its willingness to upgrade the health system, but the high statistics of mortalities in our hospitals, especially resulting from minor illnesses, is proof nothing concrete is being done to turnaround the situation.
The billions of naira being spent on frivolities could have been better applied to upgrade our health facilities and reduce mortalities, especially in vulnerable groups as infants and pregnant women.
Better attention need be devoted to our hospitals to curb the brain drain caused by our medical professionals dumping the country for better opportunites abroad. If services at our hospitals improve, the number of well-heeled Nigerians going on foreign medical pilgrimage would be reduced, as their confidence in the local system will be boosted.