Buhari has decided to ban doctors from private practice; here’s why this makes no sense


According to a news report, President Muhammadu Buhari has approved a white paper banning doctors working in government hospitals from owing private hospitals. The white paper reportedly bans doctors on the payroll of government to operate private hospitals in a bid to improve their level of commitment to the government hospitals and to avoid distractions. As much as this looks good on paper, the directive does not make sense in its timing and execution.  With this directive, the presidency practically put the cart before the horse.

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The major reason why government hospitals are not effective is not because doctors owing private hospitals. We can lay that blame on the government’s inability to create a conducive environment for work through the provisions of necessary infrastructure, equipment and tools. Government hospitals today are mere consulting clinics. A visit to any government owned hospitals in this country will reveal the rot in those hospitals. In fact, one of the quickest way to die is to seek an emergency intervention in a government owned hospital.

It’s either oxygen is not available or there is no diesel in the generator. As an undergraduate in the year 2014, I lost one of my lecturers to the rot in our government hospitals. He had an accident and needed emergency surgery. The hospital did not have diesel in their generator, the family was instructed to get about fifteen liters of diesel which they did. By the time they wheeled him into the theater, he had given up the ghost. In government hospitals we have seen cases where nurses had to deliver babies with lanterns and electric torches in extreme cases.

It’s on record that there is no year that Nigerian Doctors and other health workers don’t go on strike due to non-payment of salaries. Private hospitals have remained a source of comfort for distraught doctors and patients and other consultants that have been rendered underutilized in government hospitals due to inadequate equipment! Government owned primary health care centers are a running joke.

A responsible government would have addressed all the underlying issues in government hospitals that has given rise to dual practice by the doctors before issuing any white or brown paper against these live savers that have delivered against the odds. The white paper banning them from private practice remains null and void until President Buhari repositions Nigerian hospitals to the level of his London hospitals. This decision banning doctors from private practice does not make sense!

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