On this week on Social Media Voce, we focus on the JOHESU Strike. The Health Sector Workers are still on strike on issues that bothers primarily on pay review/increment. Despite having several meetings with the Federal Government, the strike rages on.
Like some health workers believe, the strike remains justifiable but not to the detriment of the patients. Doctor still insists that there must be pay relativity between Doctors and non-doctors, a major demand in the list of the JOHESU group.
Twitter users pour out their heart in disappointment and grief for the slow action and progress in resolving the strike crisis that is well over three weeks.
The Legislative Arm encourages the Federal Ministry of Health to take charge of the situation, by addressing the ‘most relevant needs’ of JOHESU.
The Federal Government may be doing its best, but some Nigerians still do not get how the government can let things to degenerate so low; Why there is a strike and What has happened to all the patients.
Erroneously, two sets of people are to be blamed for this JOHESU Strike… Pres. Buhari (The Presidency) and Medical Doctors. But is this Justified?
Well, while Twitter was bubbling from vexations and frustrations related to the strike, a soft post emerged on Facebook. It is a case of having experience two worlds, one’s knowledge and understanding is solid is a rock.
A Facebook user, Dr Omojowolo Olubunmi who claims to be a Physiotherapist by choice and later, out of a sheer desire for being a Medical Doctor, had to go back to Medical school to achieve his dreams, pens down this ‘real’ and touching personal experience. He wants every Nigerian to read this, especially those workers under the JOHESU.
I get really embarrassed by the amount of venom and bad blood existing between doctors and non doctors in Nigeria. Sincerely it is difficult for peace to reign when each group sees things only from their own perspective. What we need is mutual respect.
All the professionals are important and indispensable in the provision of qualitative health care to our patients. For those of us who have had the unique privilege of training as a non doctor and also as a doctor it is easier to understand the sentiments from both sides.
Now let me give a brief overview of my personal experience.
I trained as a physiotherapist many years ago at OAU, this was purely out of choice and my first and second choices then was physiotherapy. Something happen to me during my NYSC year in Portharcourt that made me finally decided to go back to study medicine which I’ve actually been contemplating right from 300L in Ife. On a that faithful Friday night a young man was attacked and matcheted by hoodlums. The man was rushed to our hostel by some good Samaritan when they heard that there are some doctors there.
As fate would have it, this guys knocked on my door violently and by the time I saw the injured man, I was simply overwhelmed. I did a little but of course I wasn’t trained as a physiotherapist to handle such case. I quickly dashed to me friend Dr. Chidi room who is also a corper. The calmness, expertise and confidence with which he handled the injured man made an indelible impression on me and from that day I vowed to study medicine. By the grace of God today I’m a consultant neurologist.
Right from the undergraduate days and also during my period working as a physiotherapist, we had so much disdain and hatred for doctors. We see them as pompous, arrogant but in the real sense that is not always the case. Now that I’ve gone through the medical school and postgraduate training as a doctor I know what it means to be a doctor.
For all my JOHESU brethren, you can’t understand that feeling unless you experience it. A couple of my physiotherapy colleagues, nurses and pharmacist have gone back to medical school to study medicine. For those who want balanced perspective I appeal to you to interact with such people. In many countries one cannot even go and study medicine directly you must have a degree in science and health related courses.
I was the best student in physiotherapy in my set at OAU in 1997, I didn’t have to strain myself too much because the courses were semester courses and with minimal effort I scored A in most of my courses. Medical school is very different, the exam is a whole session that is one year, sometimes the exams even ask what you have done in previous classes. My morbid anatomy note alone was more than all the notes I had in 300L physiotherapy combined.
I have experienced both sides and I want to appeal to my JOHESU brothers to give the doctors the respect they deserve. What you call arrogance most times is confidence and being authoritative which are ingredients essential to be a successful doctor. As a doctor, we have to show respect to all other health professionals, each profession is unique in its own right and we are interdependent on each other.
Resolving the perennial squabbles between doctors and non doctors in Nigeria requires a fair and holistic assessment of the situation, I think the Yayale Ahmed committee came close to that. We have to adopt international best practice and modify it to suit our peculiarities here.
I have made some recommendations earlier and have received knocks especially from the JOHESU group though one of them who is my close friend called and agreed with most of my points. We have to sit down, talk and negotiate the best formula that can work for us.
I will stop for now.
Dr Omojowolo Olubunmi
Bsc Physiotherapy (Ife)
Consultant Neurologist Mainland Hospital Lagos