Saturday, 30 November 2013

Robin Hammond Documents the Brutal Treatment of Africans with Mental Illness

Robin Hammond Documents the Brutal Treatment of Africans with Mental Illness

by AMANDA GORENCE on MARCH 4, 2013 · 1 COMMENT
Robin_Hammond_PhotographyAbdi Rahman Shukri Ali, 26, has lived in a locked tin shack for two years. He stays with his family in Dadaab in Eastern Kenya, the world’s largest refugee camp, where Somalis fleeing conflict and famine have sought safety. Dadaab Refugee Camp, Kenya. June, 2011. Photo Robin Hammond/Panos
Abandoned by governments, forgotten by the aid community, neglected and abused by entire societies. Africans with mental illness in regions in crisis are resigned to the dark corners of churches, chained to rusted hospital beds, locked away to live behind the bars of filthy prisons.
Some have suffered trauma leading to illness. Others were born with mental disability. In countries where infrastructure has collapsed and mental health professionals have fled, treatment is often the same – a life in chains.
After 12 years of documenting human rights issues I’ve never come across a greater assault on human dignity. These people are unseen and therefore their suffering ignored. This project is being produced in the hope that no longer will ignorance be able to be used as an excuse for inaction.—Robin Hammond
Known for his work documenting human rights and development issues around the world, photographer Robin Hammond has undertaken a long term project documenting the lives of the mentally ill in Africa, a project he calls Condemned. Hammond has traveled extensively throughout African countries in crisis—to the war devastated areas of Congo, South Sudan, Mogadishu and Uganda, to refugee camps in Somalia and Dadaab, and to Nigeria where he explored corrupt facilities for the mentally ill. The work is powerful, raw, heart wrenching. Condemnedunveils neglect, abuse and the stripping away of human liberty, while delivering an impact only a photograph could.
Hammond is the winner of the 2013 FotoEvidence Book Award. Currently based in Paris, he is represented by Panos Pictures.
Robin_Hammond_PhotographyAbandoned by their governments, forgotten by the aid community, neglected and abused by entire societies: A voiceless minority resigned to the dark forgotten corners of churches, chained to rusted hospital beds, living out their lives behind the bars of filthy prisons – Lives condemned to quiet misery… These are the mentally disabled living in Africa’s regions in crisis. Severely mentally disabled men and women are shackled and locked away in Juba Central Prison for years on end. The new nation of South Sudan faces a tremendous challenge to build a modern country capable of caring for all of its citizens. Juba, Sudan. January 2011. Photo Robin Hammond/Panos
Robin_Hammond_PhotographyThis 14 year old boy has been tied up for six years. His mother refuses to have him admitted to Gulu Hospital which is only two kilometers away. Gulu, Northern Uganda. April 2011. Photo Robin Hammond/Panos
Robin_Hammond_PhotographyDue to insufficient staff numbers, family members are encouraged to stay with patients at Brothers of Charity Sante Mental. This relative would often beat, tie up and drag the patient when she did not obey his instructions. Goma, The Democratic Republic of Congo. June 2011. Photo Robin Hammond/Panos
Robin_Hammond_PhotographyNative Doctor Lekwe Deezia claims to heal mental illness through the power of prayer and traditional herbal medicines. While receiving treatment, which can sometimes take months, his patients are chained to trees in his courtyard. One cries and says he is beaten regularly, and about how cold he gets and that he is attacked by mosquitos every night. His body is covered in bites. The Niger Delta, Nigeria. October 2012. Photo Robin Hammond/Panos
Robin_Hammond_PhotographyReverend Apostle S.B.Esanwi, Doctor of Divinity, treats people with mental illness with prayer and traditional medicines which usually consist of roots and leaves crushed in water. He claims to have cured hundreds of patients. Many stay for months in his compound. Some are chained throughout their time there. The oil industry that has brought billions of dollars into the Nigerian economy has arguably been a disaster for the Delta region from where it is extracted. Corruption, mass inequality and violence have plagued the region ever since the discovery of the resource. In a society that cannot trust corrupt Government organizations, churches have become a sanctuary from the perceived wickedness and greed of the modern culture. In regions where both fortune and sickness are attributed to the spirit world, mental illness is considered a curse. Spiritual remedies are often sought, and chains regularly used as restraints. The Niger Delta, Nigeria. October 2012. Photo Robin Hammond/Panos
http://www.featureshoot.com/2013/03/robin-hammond-documents-the-brutal-treatment-of-africans-with-mental-illness/?utm_source=hexagram.com&utm_medium=referral&utm_campaign=hexagram.com

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Wednesday, 27 November 2013

Playing the Politics of Desperation with Desperate Nigerian Electorates


"IBB is the problem of this country"
- Bola Ahmed Tinubu.

"I won't bother myself with the integrity of politicians that will fund my campaign. I will take corrupt politicians money for my campaign as far as the money is not in my pocket"
- Nuhu Ribadu.

No doubts, there are no permanent friends or enemies in politics but permanent interests. Change is constant in life and people yearn for it. When the desired change is delayed or denied, desperation sets in; it is a natural phenomenon that we are currently experiencing in this country. We are so desperate for positive change in the politics of the country that we don't seem to care about how the change will come.

As the details of the political merger between five members of the G7 rebel governors - by extension, the breakaway faction of the People's Democratic Party (PDP) and the All Progressive Congress (APC) is eagerly being awaited, Nigerians appear to be divided over the merits and the demerit of this political stunt by our magical elites. One of the wonders of the 21st century is the association of General Mohammadu Buhari with questionable characters such as Bola Ahmed Tinubu, Bisi Akande, Lai Mohamed among others all in the name of forming a 'progressive' party - the APC.

Prior to the defection of some of the G7 governors to the APC, the leadership of the APC has been touring the country, baptizing and renaming known corrupt leaders as "wise men" and "progressives"; while the gullible electorates cheer on in ecstasy.

But is this the change we have been yearning for?

Can there be true repentance without restitution?

Is switching between political parties the yardstick for determining how 'progressive' one can be?

What are the ideology and political philosophy of the APC?

How important are the electorates to the political quest of the APC?

These and more are some of the important questions we need to ask ourselves.

One fact we may choose to doubt at our own peril is that the political vultures are gradually assembling to feed on the APC, partly because of desperation on the part of the leadership of the APC. From all indications, it appears the APC are all out to dethrone the PDP come 2015. The facts on ground however show that they have not prepared much for governance after their coveted victory. There appears to be using the devils' weapon against him- by snatching up ex-PDP assets; but can one dance around the fire expecting not to sweat?

Given the nature of the individuals within the fold of the APC right now and those who will join soon, will there be any difference between the PDP, as we know it now and the APC?
Your answers are as good as mine.

The picture is clear now; the difference between SIX and HALF A DOZEN is the number of letters in them. 

Written by Mazi Joseph 
joe_2n@yahoo.com

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Tuesday, 19 November 2013

And It Came To Pass... Revisiting the 1987 Zaria Crisis



I have struggled for days, trying to pick the constituent words of this article carefully given the volatile nature of an average Nigerian when issue bothering on ethnicity and religion takes the centre stage. This article is not part of the usual buck-passing game which has become one of our trade-marks as a people, but, a candid reflection on why we must re-examine our nationhood in the light of truth. Many political analyst, observers and commentators are of the opinion that the primordial problem with the Nigerian state is the "incompatibility" of its constituent nations, usually along the ethnic and religious divides. A forensic analysis of the major conflicts/crisis in Nigeria reveals that they have either an ethnic background, a religious setting or both. Beside the Nigeria-Biafra civil war, ethnic and religious crisis has cost us more lives and properties than natural disasters in the history of the country. Of course, these twin demons(ethnicity and religious extremism) are not peculiar to Nigeria alone, but, history and experience has shown that we have done(or are still doing) nothing to truly address the situation. 


The March 1987 Zaria crisis is one of the best documented religious crisis in Nigeria with the publication of "And It Came To Pass..." by the Christian Association of Nigeria(CAN) . The 263-page book gave a detailed chronology of the events that led to the burning of one hundred and thirteen(113) churches by Muslim rioters within 20 hours on the 10th/11th of March 1987. In addition to other things, the book revealed the culpability of the Nigerian institutions(both national and traditional) in the wanton destruction of lives, properties and the terrorization of the Christian populace during the 20 hours carnage . Twenty-six(26) after the carnage, we have gone from bad to worse. Just a few days ago, the United States of America officially designated a Nigerian Islamic movement - Boko Haram as "Foreign Terrorist Organization(FOI). Even President Jonathan, the commander in-chief of the Nigerian armed forces told the nation that he does not know if truly the purported leader of the group, Imam Abubakar Shekau is dead or alive. 

Boko Haram seeks to establish an Islamic system of government in Nigeria. If you think this movement started in 2001, i am sorry, you are dead wrong. 

In 1987, Sheik Abubakar Gumi(1922-1992) was credited with the following statements : 

* "If Christians do not accept Moslems as their leader, we have to divide the country". 



* "The two-party system of government will not be south against north, but Islam against Christianity. Once you are a Moslem, you cannot choose a non-Moslem to be your leader". 

* "Nigerian Unity is to try to convert Christians and Non-Moslems (to Islam). Until the other religions become minority and do not affect our society. Gowon was a good leader. Had he been a Moslem, (he) would have been better". 

* "According to Islam, you can't say someone is corrupt unless that person is caught... If you are not his guardian, you are not to expose what he is doing unless he exposes himself". Yes, Sheik Gumi was not the first to call for the division of the country along ethnic or religious lines. General Chukwuemeka Ojukwu started the Nigeria-Biafra war in 1967. But Sheik Gumi was not just an ethnic leader, he was the Grand Khadi of the old Northern region. 



During Gumi's acceptance speech - King Faisal's certificate, he said: 

" I now call on all Muslims to emulate the jihad posture and total commitment to the cause of Allah as exhibited by the late King Faisal by carrying the banners of modern jihad beyond your country borders to foreign lands where teeming millions of Muslims are asking for your solidarity, they are asking you for schools to save their children from being enticed to pagan or other religions".

"For instance, in Nigeria where i come from, out of a total population of 100,000,000, 70 per cent of the people are Muslims who are looking up to you for proper Islamic guidance. 
Yes, i say we can, if we wish to see the return of old Islamic Empire; the return of the golden days of Islam - similar to the one seen in the 6th-9th centuries; then you should invest your wealth, your knowledge and your bottled up jihad energy in the education of your Muslim brothers in Africa, in Asia, in Far East in the form of educational jihad to all those who are desperately in need of it"

"The (Ulama) Council has also asked for fundamental changes to be made in the Nigerian Police Force so that non-Moslems police officers cannot be posted to Muslim areas, as they have become sources of corruption and moral pollution" . 


Twenty-one(21) years after Sheik Gumi's death- 

- Most arrested Boko Haram suspects are non-Nigerians. 

- An Iranian was caught shipping arms/ammunitions to(through) Nigeria. 

- Muslim extremists no longer burn churches, they bomb them. 

- We have graduated from religious extremism to terrorism. 

- Extremists still kill Christians and destroy properties up North. 

- Most Northern states are officially practicing Sharia Law. 

- People are proposing a law that can enable them marry a 5-year old girl. 

- Extremists slaughter their victims like rams. 

- We still vote along ethnic and religious lines. 

- Igbos are still clamoring for Biafra. 

- Lagos state is deporting South-Easterners 

- Abia state government is firing non-indegenes. 

- Ombatse religious sect "gallantly" reduced the Nigerian police force to a mere Boy's Scout Organization. 

- Niger-Deltans are still fighting for resource control. 

- The call for the division of the country is louder than ever. 



We have become a people accustomed to viewing national matters via our myopic ethnic or religious lens. The recent corruption cases involving Stella Oduah, James Ibori, Patricia Etteh and Faruk Lawan has shown how far we are willing to go to defend "our own". No doubt, we are gradually approaching the rubicon. Posterity will judge us all, and it won't be long before the reality of our (in)actions becomes glaring. 
We need to act now! We need to decide what we want as a nation. We need to initiate a reconciliation process that will re-examine our corporate existence as a nation. We need to stop the Cold War, pretending that it does not exist cannot invalidate it. 

In his speech titled: "Are we truly ready to develop and unite Nigeria", Mallam Sanusi Lamido Sanusi said: 

“The problem is: everywhere in this country, there is one Hausa, Ibo, Yoruba and Itshekiri man whose concern is how to get his hands on the pile and how much he can steal.Whether it is in the military or in the civilian government, they sit down, they eat together. In fact, the constitution says there must be a minister from every state.”

“So, anybody that is still preaching that the problem of Nigeria is Yoruba or Hausa or Fulani, he does not love Nigeria. The problem with Nigeria is that a group of people from each and every ethnic tribe is very selfish. The poverty that is found in Maiduguri is even worse than any poverty that you find in any part of the South. The British came for 60 years and Sir Ajayi talked about few numbers of graduates in the North (two at independence) . What he did not say was that there was a documented policy of the British when they came that the Northerner should not be educated. It was documented. It was British colonial policy. I have the document. I have published articles on it. That if you educate the Northerner you will produce progressive Muslim intellectuals of the type we have in Egypt and India. So, do not educate them. It was documented. And you say they love us (North).I have spent the better part of my life to fight and Dr. (Reuben) Abati knows me. Yes, my grandfather was an Emir. Why was I in the pro- democracy movement fighting for June 12? Is (Moshood) Abiola from Kano ? Why am I a founding director of the Kudirat Initiative for Nigerian Development (KIND)? There are good Yoruba people, good Igbo people, good Fulani people, good Nigerians and there are bad people everywhere. That is the truth.”

Stop talking about dividing Nigeria because we are not the most populous country in the world. We have all the resources that make it easy to make one united great Nigeria . It is better if we are united than to divide it.
Every time you talk about division, when you restructure, do you know what will happen? In Delta Area, the people in Warri will say Agbor, you don’t have oil. When was the Niger Delta constructed as a political entity? Ten years ago, the Itshekiris were fighting the Urobos. Isn’t that what was happening? Now they have become Niger Delta because they have found oil. After, it will be, if you do not have oil in your village then you cannot share our resources.There is no country in the world where resources are found in everybody’s hamlet. But people have leaders and they said if you have this geography and if we are one state, then we have a responsibility for making sure that the people who belong to this country have a good nature.”
So, why don’t you talk about; we don’t have infrastructure,­ we don’t have education, we don’t have health. We are still talking about Fulani. Is it the Fulani cattle rearer or is anybody saying there is no poverty among the Fulani?”

Can there ever be unity and development without peace? Your answer is as good as mine. Peace is a by-product of reconciliation, and reconciliation can only be achieved through dialogue. Anything short of the above process is a scam, cosmetic surgery and deceit that will never stand the test of time. The time for a sovereign national conference is now. Every constituent nation of this country must be allowed to bare her mind on issues of national importance. Contentious issues can be subjected to a referendum to determine its acceptability or otherwise. The clock is ticking, an explosion or implosion is inevitable. It is time we stop the buck-passing game and face reality because time they say, waits for nobody. 

History has shown that you cannot solve a problem by sweeping it under the carpet. 
We have swept a lot under the national carpet, starting from the 1966 military coup'd tat to the Civil war. 
From the unresolved deaths of Dele Giwa to Andrew Azazi. 
From the "Apo-six" to the "Ezu river-eighteen". 
From the Zaria 1987 crisis to the present day carnage by Boko Haram. 

We need to sit, talk and resolve these differences if we ever truly want to unite and develop this country. 

Most actors in the March 1987 Zaria crisis are now old or probably dead, but, their souls will continue to wander the face of the earth until justice prevails. 

As they say, pikin wey say him mama no go sleep, him sef no go sleep.


Written by
Mazi Joseph 
joe_2n@yahoo.com

Follow me on twitter  @FemiShine

Thursday, 14 November 2013

Rob Ford "The Grass is Greener On The Other Side With Crack"


With the ongoing turmoil with Toronto’s Mayor Rob Ford and the wide public outcry is an example of “Not always greener on the other side” quote, we humans have the ability to fail and fail woefully regardless of race, level of education or morals. The thrilling aspect of this context is the way public opinion is applauding the shocking act from a leader who is supposed and rightfully elected to lead by example. The mayor admitted to taking crack cocaine and as I type this, he is still the Mayor of a city of over 5million people. A Ghanaian deputy minister was recently sacked for a dirty statement that was caught on tape, the tape on which a voice purported to be that of the deputy minister Victoria Hammah was heard telling a female colleague that she will not quit politics until she makes a whopping $1m, the revelation coming in the wake of mounting pressure on Ghanaian President Mahama to fight corruption and that earned her an outright sack but in Toronto, a leader admitting to taking an illegal substance gets him public sympathy and remains in office . 
Well I guess the western world does eat out of the pie of mediocrity too. Coming from a background where corruption is the norm and a convicted money laundering politician is celebrated in a thanksgiving service in church as a hero on his return from prison I guess this shouldn’t come as a surprise to me but it does in some way because I have come to realize that no system is perfect, every system has its own strengths and flaws. I am not a politician and I don’t really have a knowledge of its intricacies but I do know my right from my wrong and to me this is wrong! But oh well I would like to see how this ends after all a respected president did have his penis sucked in the white house and he remained in office so this shouldn’t be much of a big deal right? 

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Sunday, 10 November 2013

Pay or Die ; Nigerian Hospitals



Several factors have made emergency cases in hospitals a matter of urgent concern, writes ARUKAINO UMUKORO
As far as Mr. Dayo Bamidele (not real names) was concerned, if there had been enough hospital beds, if the doctors had shown more concern, or if there were no administrative issues; maybe his three-week-old son would have survived.
“Just a few hours after my wife gave birth at the general hospital, Ifako Ijaiye, Lagos, on a Friday afternoon, she was asked to move out and wait outside the maternity ward, the nurses said someone else needed to use the bed space because of the crowd there. She was discharged the next morning on Saturday,” recalled Bamidele.
When they returned a week after the baby had been christened, they were not attended to because there were not enough hands at the hospital.
Almost three weeks later, Bamidele discovered his son was not as active as he used to be. He was also not breastfeeding properly. When his wife tried feeding him with infant milk, he vomited it, just like he had done with the breast milk earlier on.
He said, “My son was rushed to the same hospital where he was born, around 11:30pm, but the doctor on duty said we should not wait as they did not have enough bed space to accommodate the infant that night.”
At the General Hospital, he was referred to the Lagos State University Teaching Hospital, Ikeja, where they were kept waiting. After a brief observation, the doctor on duty asked the worried parents to go home, that nothing seemed wrong with the baby. Bamidele felt he carried out little examination on the boy.
“The following morning we returned the baby to LASUTH. Another doctor who attended to us that morning said something was wrong with my son, but there was no bed space. This time, we were referred to the Lagos University Teaching Hospital, Idi-Araba, but we could not bear the pain the baby was passing through. So, we quickly took him to a private hospital,” Bamidele explained.
The private hospital demanded a sum of N30,000 before the doctors agreed to begin treatment. “Luckily, I had N17,000 with me, I paid the balance afterwards,” he said.
By then, it was too late. The infant died the next morning a few hours after he was brought to the private hospital. “The doctor there told me that it was a result of an infection he had suffered during birth,” Bamidele noted.
In his view, the numerous delays in previous appointments at the hospitals worsened the situation.
Luckily for Mr. Biola Johnson (not real names), he only saw the shadow of death.
It happened on his way home to the Island after a friend had dropped him off along Airport Road, Ikeja. He made a brief stop to buy something around the bridge. Just then, in the darkness of the night, a man threatened him with a knife and asked Johnson to follow him. In a flash, Johnson suffered a deep cut on his abdomen and his face before he fled from his assailant.
It was a policeman who saw him and took him to the hospital.
When the policeman took him to the General Hospital, Ikeja, he had already lost a lot of blood, but he was conscious enough to know what was happening around him. All the medical personnel on duty were concerned with at that time was how much he would pay to open a hospital file for him to start the process of treatment. “I was conscious enough to give the policeman my phone and contacts of family and friends who came to my rescue,” Johnson recollected.  In the end, he had to pay N75,000 before he could be treated and taken in for surgery.
“I am thankful enough that the treatment was very good and sound. I’m alive today because of them (doctors). They were professionals who went beyond their call of duty. But because we live in an every-man-for-himself society, they are forced to sometimes turn away from the human side, so it has to be business first before care,” he said.
At the time of this report, SUNDAY PUNCH had not yet received approval from the Chief Medical Director to speak with the Head of Department, Medical Emergency, Lagos State University Teaching Hospital, on how the doctors handle medical emergencies, despite the challenges.
For many Nigerians, it’s a dire situation in the emergency rooms in both government and private hospitals. In some cases, patients are asked to pay as high as N100,000 or more in private hospitals as deposit before treatment could be given.
Some have blamed this situation on the high rate of poverty in the country, while others say the lack of political will to improve the country’s health sector, poor medical infrastructure, over-stretched medical personnel are also reasons why quality and affordable healthcare is still out of the reach of millions of Nigerians.
The Public Relations Officer, Nigerian Medical Association, Lagos chapter, Dr. Peter Ogunnubi, however, said things had changed in recent years, unlike in the past. “In fact, things have changed drastically under the present NMA leadership. I’m very sure such cases would be very minimal. Our doctors are very well trained now and every doctor in Nigeria knows that he cannot refuse any patient emergency care,” he said.
According to Ogunnubi, the NMA is not a law making body, but it is an association of professionals affiliated with the Medical and Dental Council of Nigeria, which has the statutory responsibility for the regulation of medical, dental and alternative medicine practice in Nigeria.
“One of the laws is that whenever a patient has an emergency situation, you must do everything possible as a doctor to first of all stabilise that patient without demanding for anything. That is the code of the MDCN. No doctor should refuse to treat a patient that is involved in an emergency situation. They must first of all stabilise that patient,” Ogunnubi explained.
“Nobody should be denied treatment in severe and emergency cases. Doctors must ensure that the patient is first of all stabilised by carrying out the necessary resuscitative measures before demanding for money for the definitive treatment,” added Dr. Segun Akinniranye, a medical doctor with 14 years experience in the UK as a consultant in intensive care medicine and anaesthesia.
David Abia-Okon, a medical doctor at a private hospital in Lagos, also echoed the same views. He agreed that the initial stabilisation of the patient was vital. However, he highlighted the challenges most doctors, especially those at private hospitals faced in treating emergency cases and the reasons why many demand for a deposit sum before commencing treatment of patients.
According to Abia-Okon, what doctors charge most of the time is less than the actual cost of treating a patient. He based his conclusion by calculating the cost of the hospital facilities, medical equipment, labour, water consumption and electricity bills, cost of fuel or diesel for generators, among other running costs.
“Also, the government collects tax and all kinds of levies from us who run private hospitals. So, government hospitals can afford to subsidise their fees, they pay their staff and their medications are more affordable (because of subsidies). But you shouldn’t expect the same in a private hospital business. So, imagine somebody now coming to ask for further rebate on the medications or services, it won’t work,” he said.
With these factors, free health care, even in emergency cases, is almost impossible, Abia-Okon said.
He also said the high fees charged by private hospitals for medical treatment when compared to government hospitals are also due to these factors.
“Where I practise is a very volatile area, so there is hardly any week that  you will not have an accident case or these area boys fighting and injuring one another. And quite often, just to save life, you help them out for free. I’ve been in the profession for 37 years; I will not allow somebody to die because of N10,000. That is principle-wise. But business-wise, it appears not to make sense; it is like telling someone to go to any restaurant to eat without paying simply because he is hungry,” he said.
According to Part B of the MDCN Code of Medical  Ethics in Nigeria, guiding professional conduct, the following among others constitute professional negligence: Failure to attend promptly to a patient requiring urgent attention when the practitioner was in a position to do so; manifestation of incompetence in the assessment of a patient; making a mistake in treatment, for example, amputation of the wrong limb, inadvertent termination of a pregnancy, prescribing the wrong drug in error for a correctly diagnosed ailment, and so on; failure to refer or transfer a patient in good time when such a referral or transfer was necessary; failure to do anything that ought reasonably to have been done under any circumstance for the good of the patient.
All the same, providing medical services simply on humanitarian ground almost all of the time is a difficult thing to do, noted Abia-Okon. “Also, it is not easy to finance private hospitals like the government hospitals,” he said.
Despite the obvious limitations in the provision of quality and affordable health care in the country, Ogunnubi also agreed that the ‘business of medicine was expensive’. “Don’t forget that these doctors are also employees. Patients should not come to the hospital with the aim of not paying. If you don’t pay, you will be referred to where they can accommodate you,” he said
The country also needs more hospitals, equipment and facilities to be able to cope with the growing demands for medical services in state, teaching and private hospitals across the country, Akinniranye noted. “It’s unfortunate that there is a lot of demand for bed space at the general hospitals because the number is very few when compared to the population.  We have very good doctors, but the hospital beds are not just enough to serve the population of Nigeria.”
Lagos State, with only a handful of teaching hospitals, has an estimated population of over 21 million, according to www.lagosstate.gov.ng.
No wonder Abia-Okon pointed out that the best solution was for the country to have a functioning national health insurance scheme, which will provide easy access to quality healthcare for all Nigerians at an affordable cost through various prepayment systems.
Not only that, there needs to be adequate manpower to be able to take care of medical emergencies. Also, considering the country’s growing population, the government also needs to invest more in the health sector, Akinniranye said. “There should be more investment in terms of manpower training — doctors, nurses, paramedics, even the ambulance drivers, equipment, upgrade of facilities, provision of drugs and access to it. Everything needs to come together to move the health sector forward,” he added.
Although Nigeria has a National Health Insurance Scheme, established under Act 35 of 1999 by the Federal Government, analysts say only five percent or less of the country’s over 160 million population are enlisted on the scheme. Some are not aware it even exists. A December 2015 deadline has been reportedly set by the NHIS to get all Nigerians into the scheme. With the many problems bedevilling the country’s health sector, that remains to be seen.
BY ARUKAINO UMUKORO for punch newspapers
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