Eben Enasco Reporting.

The struggles of Nigeria’s healthcare policy are well-documented and have affected the quality and number of doctors available locally, for decades.

Routine strikes and calls for better wages and working conditions by available medical personnel have also led to patients now waiting long hours in hospitals to see a doctor.

Some have died waiting, especially in hospitals where you have one doctor to more than 100 hundred waiting patients.

According to various records available, many of the doctors feel that they cannot cope and they will pack their bags and leave the system.

We have entered a vicious cycle because the few doctors that are left are overworked.

It is believed that with what we are seeing, it will be a matter of weeks before there will be a total collapse of the healthcare system in the country.

Professor Darlington Obaseki, the Chief Medical Director, CMD, University of Benin Teaching Hospital, UBTH, may have done so much to galvanize the piety of improving the operational qualities at the University Teaching Hospital but recent investigations show that there are formidable clogs in the wheel of progress.

The situation even with the willpower of the henchman Providing the sensitive coloration for the University Teaching Hospital in Benin City to see first-class operations, is still not near finite given what oozes out in evidence daily.

Professor Obaseki during his cycle that still subsists, has crafted different initiatives to herald friendly and helpful operational services in the university environment but pockets of unsatisfied laborers tend to dent this tact.

Medical negligence/malpractice is a growing menace in Nigeria with UBTH now the headquarters for such preponderance.

With over 50 years of cognitive experience and what is perceived as outstanding patient care, production of quality healthcare workforce, and impactful research output Hospital, it will be difficult to question the credibility of its workforce while also considering it is the foremost multi-specialist hospital in Nigeria

With UBTH Ranked amongst the best-equipped Teaching Hospitals in the Country, the souls of innocent Nigerians that have been lost due to operational negligence are uncountable.

Medical practice usually involves different activities which if not professionally handled, may give rise to liabilities on the part of the medical practitioner.

These liabilities may arise in tortious claims and some other cases, may go beyond the realm of civil liabilities to criminal liabilities.

Therefore, to establish a case of negligence, it must be shown that a duty of care was owed.

There had been a breach of that duty, and that damage or injury was suffered as a direct result of a breach of the duty owed.

It was an incident that happened on the 6th day of November 2023, of a case of an 8-year-old when I had the opportunity to carry out a test investigation to know the health status of the minor who was molested and sexually abused by a twenty-five-year-old supposed School Teacher.

For equity and truism, I had chosen the University of Benin Teaching Hospital to carry out the underground test to ascertain the level of damage inflicted on the minor by the suspected pedophile

I got to UBTH at about 8: 30 a.m. to obtain a registration card at the PDE but succeeded in doing so at about 4: 30 p.m. before I could see the doctor who was almost certain to close work for the day.

I had thought it would cost me a few minutes to do that but the crowd I met was something else.

Caregivers and intending patients struggled to get the attention of the doctors because it was one doctor to over 100 intending patients in that sequence and for different suspected ailments.

You will have to trek to a different department to sort out your medical challenges and this could kill the living.

UBTH has a wide land mass and stretches from one end to another with departments mounted at every extreme.

There are no visible shuttle busses to take both visiting and admitted patients who may need medical requirements in a system where each department is miles away.

This poorly planned means of transportation like in sane climes
is likely to further compound the illness after trekking miles to obtain medical information and this could be very frustrating for families.

Not done, we were directed by the consulting doctor who had asked us to pay a little above 14,000.00 to get the test conducted after several hours.

Before long, we saw the consulting doctor running in our direction in surprise. When we paid close attention to her intention, we were told to halt the payment process.

She has to redirect us to the Children’s Emergency Unit where negligence is the order of the day.

Infant doctors are more dominant here where most times you see over five to six doctors surrounding one patient using the patient as their experimental practice.

It got to a point when we had to call the availability of the doctors who may have forgotten they had other patients to address their situations.

Things did not get any better because we were forced to pay twice for a registration card. First, N2000, and Second, N1500. When it became clear that it should not have been given the insistence on our path when we had to log the receipt a staff in the documentation office told us no other payment for a registration card should have been made by us.

This incident happened even when no help came until after over an hour of frantic calls.

On September 17, a doctor at the Lagos State Teaching Hospital died after working nonstop for 72 hours.

The incident highlights the state of the health system, according to Dr Fejiro Chinye-Nwoko, general manager at the Nigerian Solidarity Support Fund, a Lagos-based NGO fundraising for medical interventions.

The 26-year-old’s death and the state of the facilities in the state-run establishment have angered many of her peers, including Joy Aifuobhokhan, one of the first responders at the scene.

Sometimes in the priority lists of reviving patients, human conduct towards the patient is seen as an attribute to sustaining a patient who is close to death not prescribing and administering tablets to cure illnesses.

A strong health system needs to be able to forecast, plan, and respond adequately to health emergencies.

In medical negligence and going by the definition, medical practitioners who undertake the care and treatment of patients owe a duty of care to such patients.

A duty of care is necessarily implied when a patient is registered and being treated in a hospital.

The view has been expressed that, the care of medical practitioners ought not to be limited only to the patients under their direct management but to be extended to any patient whom they come across in their professional environment and as such, a medical practitioner owes the duty to care for every patient found within the hospital premises whether or not he is on the management team of such patient. This view appears extreme.

However, the fact that this may minimize incidents of direct or vicarious liability by a hospital as an entity for negligence may make this view desirable to some extent.

Nigerian doctors emigrate yearly to hotspots like the United States, the United Kingdom, and Canada. Since 2019, Nigerian newspapers have been reporting about recruitment exercises conducted by Saudi officials in Lagos and Abuja.

The average salary for a Nigerian doctor in the employ of the federal government, is 240,000 naira ($312.92) monthly, a fraction of the 2,448 ($2,967.20) average remuneration for their peers in the UK. Those employed by the state governments earn even less.

And that has been a key factor in their migration.

But doctors say fleeing Nigeria is also a matter of life and death even for them due to deplorable working conditions and poor equipment as they work round the clock.

Only about 72,000 doctors are registered with the Nigerian Medical Association even though approximately 3,000 doctors graduate from Nigeria’s medical schools yearly.

Worse still, only about 35,000 practice in Nigeria, a country of about 200 million people, a ratio of one doctor to 10,000 people. This is far below the WHO’s recommended doctor-to-patient ratio of one doctor to 500 people.

This is compounded by a steady decline in the number of nurses, 75,000 of whom have left the country in the last five years.

However, the mass Exodus of Nigerian Doctors overseas has left an incidental vacuum for those who shouldn’t be seen around any part of the facility seemingly for their conduct during practices.

One such component is usually the lackadaisical behavior of some senior doctors and infant medical practitioners.

But the faces of the ones who claimed outstanding patient care, and the hospital changed my belief.

In my on-the-spot assessment, I concluded that most doctors are overwhelmingly engaged.

One doctor is pinned to over 100 patients even while attending to them, their attention is hooked to emergencies when a call comes.

Many families have lost their loved ones due to negligence on the part of the caregivers at the hospitals.

If anything must be done to avert this attitude that is propelling murderous practices, Professor Darlington Obaseki and other Medical Chiefs across the country must up the ante to save lives.

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