There are many Nigerians with visual problems, writes Okello Oculi

A course offered on ‘’Health Policy Analysis’’ in the Department of Political Science at Ahmadu  Bello University, was the only one in Nigeria’ universities, and Africa. It compared the link between political ideology and the type of Health care system offered. The countries covered included the United States of America as developed capitalist economy.

 China and Cuba represented people-oriented political systems where power was won through armed guerrilla war which overthrew feudal aristocracies brutally exploiting peasant communities; and were supported by Euro-American economic interests.

African countries that had won political power from European colonial governments with a legacy of rudimentary healthcare for colonised peoples were expected to rely on herbal drugs supplied by ‘’traditional healers’’ and birth facilitators in rural communities.

In the context of lack of visual documentary aids, students relied primarily on print publications by scholars of health care services. The Embassy of Cuba offered free copies of the country’s prime newspaper ‘’GRANDMA’’ – named after the boat that Fidel Castro and his team of 80 militants travelled secretly from Mexico to an isolated beach in Cuba.

Since the course was offered before General Babangida’s devaluation of Naira in 1986,  it was difficult for students to accept the credibility of  harsh and unequal aspects of health care in America’s developed capitalist economy. Likewise, without visual experience of armed struggle across rural China and mountainous Cuba, it was difficult for students to fully embrace their creative healthcare strategies.

Each student undertook research in her or his village or urban neighbourhood about the most prevalent health problem; and how local government authorities were dealing with it. The project forced students to explain to their families and local health staff – where there was a dispensary with nursing staff – the link between the study of Political Science and local health needs and solutions.

This was a thrilling experience and awareness-bashing for both students and local officials. One student was delighted to have understood the lack of caesarean surgery accounted for the death of his sister. The moment of a link between knowledge and the concrete welfare of a local community was clearly exhilarating.

There was, however, failure to link health care delivery to industrial production. The Biochemistry program was not linked to a manufacture of pharmaceutical drugs for the Teaching Hospital and clinics in the vast catchment area of the institution.  Kaduna Polytechnic, as the major site for the translation of knowledge into technical instruments used in delivering medical intervention, was not visible.

The media reported on Nigerian Pharmaceutical primarily as a commercial sector. The sector was focused on importing drugs and medicines manufactured in Euro-American economies. The so-called ‘’captains of industry’’ in this sector did not need the transformation of knowledge into industrial production of medicinal drugs. Teaching  Health Policy Analysis suffered from ‘intellectual trachoma’, with failure to incite critical attacks on a dependent ‘’comprador pharmaceutical economy’.

This area of academic darkness has become more scandalous following the global turn of events in which India as, a former colonial economy, has become a global manufacturer and supplier of pharmaceutical drugs. At a national level, Nigeria finds itself INVADED by FAKE pharmaceutical products whose danger to the health of consumers is increasing astronomically. 

India has also become a major destination for medical tourism. In the 1970s it was noted that a Canadian who travelled from Canada paid less for the total cost of Return ticket to India, treatment for dental ailment, than for dental treatment at home. It is probably rival propaganda which by 2023 was referring to India’s medical tourism as a sure ticket for catching ‘FLIGHT PURGATORY’.

It is surprising that our student medical researchers did not notice diseases of eyes of Nigerians. By 2023, an Indian non-governmental organisation, TULSI CHANRAI FOUNDATION EYE HOSPITAL is probably a beneficiary of a perceptive Commercial Attachee among India’s Diplomatic team in Nigeria, to recognise ailing eyes of Nigerians as a gold mine waiting for an investor.

Talking to several doctors and nurses in the institution indicates that a little over 300 surgeries each day are performed on eyes of patients. The predominant number of women patients may be blamed on smoke surging into eyes of women cooking with wood-based fire. Some gender warriors could finger alcohol drenched and other bad breaths of men; and physical domestic violence. There is also a worrying presence of children patients.

It is not certain if eye-surgeons are among the medical doctors that have fled Nigeria. The crowd that fills waiting halls at TULSI indicates a solid lucrative market. A loan scheme for group practice would reduce the exodus, unless fear of demands for free treatment by networks of relatives is a hindrance to successful medical business. Cry the spectacle of ailing eyes.

Prof Oculi writes from Abuja

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