This is not a political post. But it appeals to the political tendencies of doctors, who are supposed to be the head of a health team. The news about President Buhari saying he is too old to lead Nigeria trickled in from far away South Africa, when he met with the Nigerian Community resident in that country. Most social media had this news trending, especially as our new President is still ‘NEW’. But his media people have tried to douse the rippling effect that his speech triggered. So read what his Special Adviser of Media and Publicity, Adesina Femi, had to say….

On Monday evening, President Muhammadu Buhari spoke with the Nigerian community at the Nigerian Consulate in Johannesburg, South Africa.
Speaking extempore, because according to him, he wanted to “speak from the heart,” the President urged them to be good ambassadors of Nigeria, a country he went to the warfront to keep together.
Still extolling the virtues of our country, Nigeria, the President, who had served as a military governor of the then North-Eastern State at 33 years old, declared:”I wish I became Head of State when I was a governor. Now at 72, there is a limit to what I can do.”
The above comments have been reported by some newspapers to mean that the President was saying he was too old to cope with the demands of his office. Far from it……

A lot of people have seen the Full Statement, and are interpreting it based on their inclinations.

What is striking about President Buhari’s comment is his acceptance of an obvious limitation. Whether he is fit to continue as President, in the light of this speech, remains debatable. But i draw solace from the fact that, he agrees he may just be too old for the task ahead or maybe he is trying to down-play the Messiahic toga already dangling from his neck. Sorry, this is not a political post, so let me stop here before my analysis stretch even further.

I am more disturbed because health professionals, especially doctors, may not fully grasp what it is to work within the scope of your field. Earlier today, a consultant who is not a consultant surgeon, described how he had a field day, as an intern doctor, performing numerous, complex procedures and surgeries that are reserved for the different sub-specialty in Medicine. Then i remember how a senior colleague described vividly how he had done a thyroidectomy. Shocked? There are also stories of how doctors horn their skills in villages, invariably using humans as guinea pigs. There have been tales of success and failure during these exploits, but is it the best thing to do?

Imagine this scenario. In a far flung rural settlement, located in the Northern part of the country, where access to good health services are almost non-existent, an NYSC Doctor is posted to that community. Minimal condition for work is zero, with no power supply to that community. The community hospital depends on a mini power generator set, that have not been serviced in the past 3 months. Is it ethically proper for this young doctor to carry out those complex surgeries? Would it not be better for him to arrange for the patient to be referred to a better facility. The answer is a big YES!!! This, however is not usually the case. He would rather go in, in that usual unwarranted bravo stance, and do the best he can. Pity. Experience has shown that most times we cause more harm to the patient, rather than saving them.

My position excludes those patient who are brought in acutely and may not survive it if moved to a different, distant hospital. They would need immediate and definitive actions, if they are to be saved.

If the truth must be said, monetary gains is the first and principal reason most doctors would not agree to having a limitation (limitation in competence and experience). Other reasons are usually personal and individualized, but all in the setting of selfishness. Doctors must cease to look at patients as CUSTOMERS; or how do you explain when a doctor says he does not want you to patronize the other hospital, because he wants to corner all the patient to himself. This is despite the fact that Nigeria’s Doctor-to-patient ratio is quite abysmal.

Do not misunderstand me. The noble profession of taking care of the sick is done primarily by doctors and so, they must be naturally diligent, hardworking, self-sacrificing individuals. Doctors are special breeds. I say this not because i have less than one year to become one, but because it is the truth. It is just that a few bad ones are denting the image others have tried so hard to uphold.

Doctors weld so much power when it comes to the life and death of patients. President Buhari, legally exercises far reaching powers on Nigerins and even on the whole of the African continent. So it would not be out of place if Doctors take a cue from him, by knowing what limitations we have and acting appropriately. After all we are both powerful…


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