Medical Road of Victims to Villainy

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Dear Dr. Francis Adedayo Faduyile

In the mind of most people, you as the President of the Nigerian Medical Association (NMA) preside over the apex body of medical practitioners in Nigeria. It can be jokingly said that you are the Dr. of doctors in Nigeria.

You should therefore not be surprised that after the recent decisions of some doctors across the country to go on strike, you (as their Dr. and President) are getting an epistle about the medical road to villainy addressed to you.

A quick look at facts and events.

On Tuesday 17th of March, media outlets broke the news that the Association of Resident Doctors (ARD), FCTA chapter, has announced its decision to go on indefinite strike. The announcement, it was reported, was duly signed by its president, Roland Aigbovo.

My late Papa had a saying; “Bad things spread easily,” to his point, about 24 hours after the announcement of the Association of Resident Doctors, Abuja, the Association of Resident Doctors in Gombe State too announced that they too were going on indefinite strike, the Gombe doctors decision, just like in Abuja was announced by their own President Dr. Saidu Alhassan.

We do not take delight in stating the obvious but it is worth noting here that these decisions to strike were taken while people from all over the world and from all walks of life were and are still thinking of how to deal with the pandemic popularly known as Coronavirus. As a matter of fact, an authoritative Nigerian online paper noted that the Abuja decision was announced barely an hour after the third case of COVID-19 was confirmed in Lagos.

In a bid to ameliorate a bad event, the doctors made things worse and almost made some of us cry out of anger and shock because the doctors said, “they deliberated extensively on the health threat posed by the Coronavirus scare, their work conditions, and patient care before arriving at the difficult decision.” It would be a treat to read the minutes and notes of these doctors’ deliberations.

The reasons for these strikes are that of money and status.

Abuja President, Roland Aigbovo, said decision to embark on indefinite strike is a result of the failure of the FCT administration to pay them their basic salaries for more than two months. Gombe President said the doctors proceeded on strike after 11 weeks of inconclusive negotiations with the government and that his members are facing challenges among which is the refusal of the government to upgrade house officers on internship.

Clearly, there is a lot wrong with our system, for a society that turns doctors (and teachers) to beggars or needy people is a society that does not understand nor care about what is good for the society. Nobody should be owed salaries, but we must loudly say shame on any government owing doctors (and teachers) salaries. We the people should also be ashamed of ourselves for letting doctors be ill-treated. We should all accept that we are all guilty for allowing those charged with taking care of our health and grooming our future to become victims of indifference and disdain of government.

Should we then allow our doctors to because of pain and need or the recklessness of our government pass from victims to villainy? Heavens forbid!

Dear Dr, you have some difficult tasks at hand, besides stepping forward to tell government and we the people those simple and difficult but all necessary things to do; you also have to for a greater good, be tough on your colleagues.

You need to remind all your doctors that if a dog bites you it is not sane to bite back the dog. The silly evil of our people and government cannot and should not be allowed to be a reason for you to lose the nobility of your role and vocation. We shall not spare you the Hippocratic oath, but we shall not dwell on it. Just remember it and if need be, read it again once in a while.

You also really need to sit down and think about how to get back the respect that your job deserves and ponder on why and how you lost it. We say lost it here, because growing up, your job used to be in the list of the top three career any child wanted to be. It is not enough to blame others and to say politicians or public administrators have ruined things. It is important to find out how it was allowed to happen.

The societies in which doctors are not toyed with are not made of saints. The trick is simple, doctors make sure they are respected; mind you, they do so rarely by striking.

Dear Dr. Faduyile as we await your intervention, here is a tip for you, rather than moving from victim to villainy, guide your doctors to stoically take the road to becoming heroes. Painful yes, but the road to success is not by elevator. With Coronavirus, the world is watching, and you need to ask yourself if you can speak to the world for one minute, what would you say? We are on strike?

Prof. Kila, Centre Director at CIAPS Lagos can be reached at @anthonykila