By Adeola Aderounmu.
If Umaru Yar’Adua keeps flying to Germany every other day for medical checkups and randomized treatments, there is definitely no hope yet for the Nigerian masses plagued by poverty and very serious health infirmities. If the one in whom we entrust our health care seeks succour beyond the borders of Nigeria (and in fact Africa) then the rest of us must know that our lives are in our hands.
Shame which is a virtue in Nigerian politics is the only word that I found to describe this action of the number one citizen in Nigeria. It is a clear revelation of the gross incompetence of Umaru not just as an individual but as an administrator or ex-governor. For example, if I was the former governor of Katsina State for 8 years, I would have used my influence and position to build a specialized hospital to take care of my peculiar health needs. By so doing, I would have provided a unique opportunity for other people who have the same or similar problems within my state and elsewhere in Nigeria.
Really, how much can it cost to facilitate the building of such a specialized hospital at the federal level supposing the cost of building it surpasses the state health allocations for 8 years? If that was the only achievement in Katsina State’s Department of Health between 1999 and 2003, would it have been a selfish gain? Does it require the building of a new hospital to take care of Umaru’s special needs? Was any attempt made to incorporate what he needs into an existing health institution anywhere in Nigeria?
We must constantly remind ourselves of some unforgivable/ severe shortcomings of the people who lead us in Nigeria. Umaru is definitely bringing shame to Nigeria with this particular attitude of his. For instance, how does this flying out for health reason help Nigeria in terms of enticing foreign investors to Nigeria? In 21st century Global Village scenario, Nigeria cannot provide electricity to run businesses and Umaru is making it clear that the health of Nigerians and foreigners in Nigeria cannot be catered for in Nigeria.
My humble advice is that Umaru should with immediate effect lay a foundation in Abuja for the construction of the carbon copy of that hospital that he is always running or flying to in Germany. He should also make sure that the hospital is completed in a world record timing without neglecting regulations, standards and safety. In addition, he should ensure that replicas are constructed in at least 6 other places spread over Nigeria.
When that is done, Umaru should personally work closely with the Federal Ministry of Health to ensure that the hospitals are equipped not only with the state of art facilities but also with the best hands in Nigeria. If there is a need to recall Nigerian doctors or experts from the Middle East, Australia or the US then let it be done. We cannot possibly succumb to any form of inferiority complex that Nigerian doctors are not better than those in Germany. It is part of government’s responsibilities to provide the infrastructure and the environment that will facilitate optimum output and efficiency.
If that kind of specialized hospital that exists in Germany is found in Nigeria and if our best doctors work there at home, Umaru would have no need to fly 6 hours in air just to see a doctor or the edifice itself. Afterall, Nigerian doctors are among the best in the world and they are scattered all over planet earth. The other day I was treated by a Nigerian doctor at the Famous Karolinska Hospital here in Stockholm. He told me he is from the old Bendel State and that he had been living and working outside Nigeria since the mid 70s!
These pieces of advice can serve as the stepping stones for the revamping of Nigeria’s ailing health industry. Without setting up any tea drinking or money-dividing committee, there are possibilities to establish, develop and maintain viable health policies that will work for all and sundry in Nigeria.
It is not too much to ask that the health industry must work. A healthy nation is a wealthy nation. Nigerians must stop the shameful seeking of basic health care from neighbouring countries and the confidence that we have in our health institutions and health providers can only be restored if the leadership truly leads by desirable examples.