Ebuka Obi-Uchendu: Yellow Fever (YNaija Frontpage)

 

Ebuka Obi-Uchendu


When the drama with South Africa over yellow fever cards blew up, diplomacy took the front burner while the underlying and more important sad tale of how poor our healthcare system in Nigeria is…    

I was good at faking an illness in boarding school back in my junior secondary days. I wasn’t a prescription drug addict so it wasn’t about wanting to have pills shoved down my throat. I usually did it close enough to our visiting day so my parents were worried enough to get permission to take me home for better treatment. That instantly meant plenty cable TV time without having to listen to my annoying Business Studies teacher.

But I must have been 12 years old or so when I actually fell ill for real, many days before visiting day. There was no one to baby me so I had no choice but to be sent straight to the school clinic and dumped with the school nurse. There were legendary tales about her. And you know secondary school tales can be legendary.

Anyways, the malaria was killing me and I just needed something, anything to make me live again. She called me up after a few minutes. I tried to stand up but was too dizzy. She went; “My friend stand up. There are other people waiting.” I eventually went to her. She felt my neck with the back of her hands, checked my eyes and told me to sit. She pulled out a syringe, and filled it with something, then told me to pull my shorts down and submit my buttocks.

Poke! Then she pulled out the needle. I thought to myself that it went by really fast. Just as I was about to put on my shorts, she said; “I haven’t given it yet.” I was startled. Then she wiped another spot on my butt cheek with her cotton wool and poked again. Three seconds later, she pulled it out again. I asked if she was done and she said; “No, I’m not getting the spot well.” At this point, I was just about ready to die and make sure she got sued for murder.

She ended up getting it right at the third attempt and I recovered a few days later. She stayed on the job a few more terms before eventually getting the boot as the reports of her recklessness got overwhelming.

Healthcare and Nigeria should almost not be used in the same sentence. We all have unbelievably shocking stories of a family member, or friend who died or barely survived simply because nobody here really cares.

One of my friends had to go to India recently to get a kidney transplant after constantly being told in Nigeria that he should just lose weight and his constant ill health would stop. A close relative of mine had an open-heart surgery in the same Asian country after Nigerian doctors told him he was exaggerating the pain in his chest whenever he coughed. A girl I know that survived the UN building bomb attack, would be without limbs today if her parents weren’t rich enough to send her to America after doctors at the National Hospital in Abuja insisted she be amputated.

When the drama with South Africa over yellow fever cards blew up, diplomacy took the front burner while the underlying and more important sad tale of how poor our healthcare system in Nigeria is, was relegated to the background. Why are sensitive health cards, being sold at airports without any checks? Why are we more interested in telling South Africa to quarantine and inject our citizens instead of making sure we do the right thing here first? Why on the face of the earth is polio still a problem in this country in 2012?

We love to sweep things under the carpet; and we can only keep pretending that these things don’t bother us. I just wonder how long before we actually have the soul to start fixing things. Fela Anikulapo-Kuti once sang; “Yellow Fever, you dey bleach oh you dey bleach.” Thankfully, we all know that behind every bleached skin, lays an epidermis that is slowly rotting away…

 

 

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Comments (22)

  1. I'm a medical doctor, and I do not feel insulted by d article or other comments. Rather I weep for nigeria. You know, I was at NYSC camp clinic ds past week and it is ALARMING HOW MANY LETTERHEADED,ORIGINAL,SIGNED &STAMPED FAKE MEDICAL REPORTS I saw from teaching hospitals requesting concessional redeployment for d "ill"corpers. I later heard such letters cost only #2500

  2. Pingback: How Obasanjo and the Nigerian Health System conspired to kill my friend | YNaija

  3. I do not see why XE is being attacked here. While a lot of people can relate to this article because they've been active on social media, much more is still required of the writer.

    In my own opinion, this writeup is just fair. The writer has a duty to his audience to present the full picture of things and then convince them to see it in his point of view or at least consider his own point of view. Ebuka did not do this very well and a total stranger who did not know about this whole saga will leave very confused. There is also the mortal sin of generalization which comes off as lazy at the end of the day as the writer does not seem to go out of his way to consider or give credit to exceptions to his generalizations.

    In the end it was Ebuka's point of view and he made very valid points. I would however like to see the next write up written with a much diverse audience in mind and an effort taken to broaden the perspective.

    Thank you.

  4. Dear XE,

    If after all the brouhaha of the yellow fever card/SA saga. You still need an education as to what a yellow fever card is /does and is needed for, don't blame Ebuka blame yourself.

    We are sorry that the article does not meet up to your intellectual standards. Maybe a Public Health specialist should have written it.

    Let me ask this. Of all the so called proffered solutions to our myriad of health problems, which one has been adopted?

    I am a doctor and I do not feel insulted in the least bit.

  5. @Ebuka God bless you!!!! Too much sense in here to behold, I hope the minister of health read through this & digest it! Why are sensitive health cards, being sold at airports without any checks? Why are we more interested in telling South Africa to quarantine and inject our citizens instead of making sure we do the right thing here first? Why on the face of the earth is polio still a problem in this country in 2012?

    We love to sweep things under the carpet; and we can only keep pretending that these things don’t bother us. I just wonder how long before we actually have the soul to start fixing things.

  6. I totally agree with lagoshunter. Nigeria as a whole need to get their act together. And the way the whole matter was handled was very childish. I mean it became a petty game.

    And we can deceive ourselves all we want but the medical part of our country is dead and nothing is being done to revive it.

    My mom had a bad case of menopause…. She was sick on and off. Had all. Manners of ailment according to the doctors in nigeria, it wasn't until she went to US that a doctor told her it wasa severe case of menopause and gave her the pills to use to help manage the imbalanceof her hormones. I mean something as simple as hormones. And menopause.

    Fine Ebuka could have shed more light on the yellow fever but we. Nigerians need to know when to give ourselves a pat on the back and when to scold ourselves. What is bad is bad………no need for sugarcoating

  7. Mr A's son steals, he stole a pencil in school and was given 6 strokes of the cane. Mr A storms the school and threatens to sue the school and throw his son's teacher in jail. Mr A conveniently forget that the real issue is THEFT and that HIS son is the THIEF in question.

    Mr A is Nigeria. The Schoool/Teacher is South Africa.

    We import more intellectual/business capital from South Africa than they do from us.
    We can gloat all we want but NIgeria is just like the village idiot who is the last to know that s/he is the reason why everybody is laughing and having a good time.

  8. its the same as the education sector.. on the TV the other day they were celebrating sending several naijans abroad on scholarship abroad to study for masters degrees etc. Why cant this money be invested in our own universities??? The thing don tire person truly..  

  9. NO value for human life here! 
    Its appalling, and EVERYTHING that happens in Nigeria echoes it! Our tolerance for uncertainty and ambiguity, how long can we keep being comfortable in such unstructured situations ??!!

  10. I currently suffer from and ear problem that has led to othe issues. I have seen so many doctors here who have no clue as to what the problem is. Some gave me vitamins, some gave me some menthol to inhale etc . It was on a event trip to England that I was properly diagnosed and will be going for a procedure lath is month. Just to test Nigerian doctors, I went to see another net doctor and he told me my problem was not serious and should take some vitamins,can you believe that. God help us

  11. I'm sorry to be such a critic, but this is a very very very poorly written article.

    First of all, an article should be able to convey the issue at hand to a reader who has not previously heard of the problem being discussed. In this case, it is the yellow fever card. [What exactly is the yellow fever card? Who issues it? Why do they issue it? What is the problem with the card? etc…..No where does the article actually state what the card is, the current recommendations, or the current issues regarding the card. The reader is left no choice but to google "nigeria yellow fever card," to maybe read another person's article and figure it out].

    Secondly, all articles (especially one as critical, disparaging and insulting as this), should at least have a nice conclusion paragraph, suggesting one or two changes that could make things better; or at least, calling on the government or the people to do A or B. This article just states "the problem" (from a very biased perspective, I might add), and then full-stop! No recommendations, no suggestions, no pleas. You think we didn't know there was a problem already?

    Finally, I will state about these lines: "Healthcare and Nigeria should almost not be used in the same sentence. We all have unbelievably shocking stories of a family member, or friend who died or barely survived simply because nobody here really cares." This is a bit over the top. In fact, this is extremely insulting and is a slap-in-the-face to all the Nigerian doctors and nurses who toil under harsh and austere circumstances, and who wish things could be better, but are at the mercy of the corruption and impoverishment of the nation as a whole. They deserve an apology.

    1. Its a poorly written article because it doesn't subscribe to your "formular". Not very openminded.

      1. No its poorly written because it makes little sense.

        1. what suggestions could he possibly conclude with that would be new to the government? they know what to do..they are in regular contact with the western world and they all go abroad for medical check up. I don't think he wrote the article as an entry for an article competition…

    2. Dear XE, your comment would have been valuable had this been a literary class or journalism journal. If you've got nothing to contribute to the conversation, stay out of it instead of choosing to ride a high horse. Would you have said this had we all be seated around a table and just commenting on social issues?

      Yes Nigerian doctors do toil and make great sacrifices but let's ask them if they don't wish that our healthcare system was better.

      1. I actually see where XE is coming from; valid points s/he made.

        While I wouldn't say it was a poorly written article because it made for good reading, perhaps the author might think to shed more light on his subject next time. The title of the article after all is Yellow Fever.

        Not everyone still watches the network news at 9pm, you see.

  12. Healthcare and Nigeria should almost not be used in the same sentence. We
    all have unbelievably shocking stories of a family member, or friend
    who died or barely survived simply because nobody here really cares.

     – Is this not a bit too much?

    1. It isnt nearly enough. My teaching hospital experience( ppl from other countries used to come to our teaching hospitals in the past) I lost a dear family friend on the 31st. she was misdiagnosed with diabetes when she had cancer. they treated her for for diabetes and sent her into 2 comas b4 realising she did not have diabetes… by that time the cancer had gone far… she did the treatment for cancer but the aftercare was so bad she died looking like… i cant… healthcare and nigeria should not exist in the same sentence. another family friend took his mom to a general hospital and she was FORGOTTEN by the doctors on rounds till she died. Forgotten. The last we lost had a liver abscess… simple drug shouldve saved him… no doctor in the hospital… this was in itigidi…. by the time he came it was to pronounce him dead. i can go on and on and on.  

  13. At last some sense.

cool good eh love2 cute confused notgood numb disgusting fail