Josfyn Uba and Chima Amaechi
When it comes to patient management, accurate diagnosis is the key to good and effective treatment. Once the initial diagnosis leading to treatment is wrong, the entire process is a mess.
These were the views of Dr. Chukwuma Chiazor, the Medical Director of Emirates Hospital, Ajah, Lagos.
Chiazor, a renowned medical practitioner from Delta State, who holds degree in Medical Microbiology, MBBS, Cert. in Infertility Ultrasound and Invitro Fertilisation, spoke to Daily Sun in his office.
Why did you choose the medical profession?
I chose this profession because I wanted to contribute my quota to humanity. I am a very compassionate person. Medical profession is essentially a humanitarian job, but at the same time, you can’t take away the commercial aspect of it.
Health is a very important aspect of life and I have always wanted to be part of it. My joy always comes from just “thank you” that someone says when you treat him. It is gratifying to see patients smile as they get back on their feet after being treated. That is where my fulfillment comes from.
What do you make of the prevalent issue of wrong diagnosis of patients today?
When it comes to patient management, accurate diagnosis is the key to good and effective treatment. Once the initial diagnosis leading to treatment is wrong, the entire process is a mess. Diagnosis is in two phases. First of all, the patient will be seen by the doctor, so, he can make a tentative diagnosis before sending him to the laboratory. It is either the test confirms or refutes it.
If there is a conflict, which do you go with?
For me, the test is to give a guide. However, at times the result does not correlate and the person has the full-blown signs. It now depends on both parties. I would ascribe to a second opinion so you can avoid making mistakes. That is where passion for the job comes into play. Your ability to look at details is what makes you a true professional. Doing a thorough job is key so that you don’t diagnose wrongly.
What is your reaction to the issue of medical export in Nigeria?
It is been a big issue for a while now and it is a bad development too. I still remember when I was a young boy, the medical profession was well respected and the practitioners were also well catered for by the government.
At that time, graduate doctors were the envy of their counterparts in other fields. And nobody ever thought export or travelling out to practice abroad. Now, it is a different thing altogether. People are looking for greener pastures. They seek for better working conditions and better pay packs. That is important, as people need to take adequate care of their families and also attain financial stability.
Swapping of babies in maternity wards around the world is no more new. It is on the increase as we speak. What do you think can be done to curb this heinous crime?
Baby swapping has become a worrisome development all over the world. All hands must be on deck to tackle the problem. For every solution given there is always a drawback. For example, the use of CCTV will help but remember the person or persons stationed to monitor it can be also compromised
But before this, let us look at remuneration. If the medical workers are well paid and incentives are adequately given, I think that will help because most of these problems are caused by extreme poverty. Even at that, I still don’t think it enough reason to commit such a crime.
My suggestion is that a relation of the patient should stick around in the labour room and the ward and should escort the nurses with the child to the ward pending when the new mother is out from the ward. And as soon as she comes, her baby should be handed over to her. I think relatives of the new mother should keep vigilance until the woman comes out. But again, there are drawbacks.
In all, it is a matter of conscience. Nonetheless, with some of the above points, it can be reduced to the barest minimum.
What are the challenges of operating as private medical practitioner in Nigeria?
Just like any other business concern in Nigeria, ours is not different. The business climate is difficult, especially when you are on your own. The major challenge is funding. The banks will not agree to give you loan and when they do, they will require a collateral from you. The interest rate is also outrageous. Again, the state government is not helping matters. They make the environment unfavourable with all manner of fees, ranging from radio/TV taxes, premises tax, drug tax etc. After going through all these challenges, one is discouraged. You are not well remunerated when you were working, so, how can you save? Your parents are not rich or connected, so, how can you raise funds to start up?
Setting up a good private practice requires lots of funds. From rental of the place to equipping it and hiring of staff, then, you would talk about raising money for a generator that will serve your purpose. It is a money guzzler and you can only source such funds from the bank. The challenges are enormous.
The dangers of self-medication cannot be over emphasised. What is your advice to the public on this issue?
Self-medication should not be encouraged. It is dangerous because of wrong treatment, wrong medication and fake drugs. It is unfortunate that when someone is sick, he just dashes off to a road-side chemist and tells the attendant to mix drugs for him. He has no idea of the drugs being mixed. He has the faintest knowledge of the side effects and even its efficacy. At the end of the day, his health problem is worsened. With self-medication, patients end up spending more. It is even damaging to the vital organs of the body but people would not still patronise them.
Sadly so, all these issues boil down to bad economy. If people are empowered and are financial capable, they will gladly seek for proper medical care in the hospital but they can’t afford it. That is why they go to look for an easy way out.
What do you make of our health policies since 1999?
I make bold to say that most of the health polices dated back to 1999 are obsolete now. There is urgent need for them to be reviewed so as to meet up with the modern trends in medical practice.