In our society the more things are bizarre the more acceptability they receive. Every cherished norm and even rules are practiced here in the reverse order. We don’t benefit yet we continue. The result is the massive disorder, confusion and tension that currently dot the land, making life and living a song not worth singing. Three weeks ago a section of of health workers, the sub-unit known as resident doctors embarked on another strike. That distasteful outing ended last weekend after it had taken huge toll on the people and society for all of 10 days.
During the outing, as has always been the case when our medics take to this ignominious route, citizens with various kinds of ailment were stranded, their families disorganized and disoriented. Many who would have survived their sicknesses and live to give succour to their nuclear and extended families, were forced to transit to the world beyond at the blink of the eyelid, leaving their immediate families, colleagues and all others who may have come in contact with them one way or the other, in great anguish. Someone who is my friend on Facebook, Mr Timmy Johnson Chinedu, relayed an account of an incident during this just suspended doctors› strike which brought so much truama to my whole being and many others, who were privileged to read the story from my social network page.
Many in their reactions said they had been hearing accounts of such terrible stories in the past when medical personnel embarked on strikes but admitted the message never sunk home until they read this real life encounter, backed by very horrific pictural evidence. One asked me, «Ralph you mean this could happen in our space» and my reply was a simple one, «worse things happen nearly every minute.» To ring the message home I added, «it doesn›t record desired impact, because, due to frequent occurrences, we have become immune to the repulsive.» Otherwise nothing else can explain why terrible things keep happening and we look away behaving as if it is of no consequence, whereas those things, besides their terrible nature, do a lot of damage to our status as human beings. They diminish us.
I will concisely relate that incident as relayed by Mr Timmy Chinedu of Ugwueke in Bende Local Government Area of Abia State before drawing my observations and then my position. Mr Chinedu got a call from his sister to rush to the Federal Medical Centre, Umuahia, where a relation to the sister›s friend was said to have been taken after an accident on the Enugu-Port Harcourt expressway. He got to the hospital many hours after to find the accident victims outside the Accident & Emergency Unit, help was difficult to come by and the reason was inadequate staff arising from the strike action.
The situation was bad. It was such patients would have to wait long hours to be attended to. The young man saw the situation, he called his boss who informed him he too was on his way to see what help he could offer. Soon the kind boss got to the hospital but he couldn›t stand the sight of what he saw. Though a man quite alright but the scene dealt with his courage. He gathered himself back to reality and then did the most sensible thing anyone in the circumstance would do. He offered to take the victim to a private hospital but a twist came in between: two others terribly wounded cried and beckoned on him not to abandon them. Moved by compassion he added the two more to the one they came for; he provided money to hire an ambulance and to pay possible deposits in the new place and left everything in the care of his aide.
The wounded were taken to a hospital, where they were well received but no treatment was administered until issues of blood purchase and deposits were taken care of. Another obstacle worth looking into. By 11:30pm the good Samaritan wanted to go to have a meal and refreshments but officials of the hospital would not accept anything of such, insisting he could go if he would take along his patients and return with them in the morning. Attitude! Bad approach to serious assignment. Hot arguments ensured before he could be left to go. Few hours after he got a call that one out of the three didn’t make it. The reason was that one of them, a female had lost so much blood while waiting at the other end. More scandalizing is the fact that the victims were transported in tricycles from the accident scene to the hospital of first call. The one lost one was named Chinyere Ohia from Enugu State.
That is how our society lost one of her own, who if she survived would have remained very useful in many ways to her family and larger society. It is possible she was married and have got children who are in school, a husband and relations. She was on a trip to Ariaria market, Aba, to make purchases. That link is cut forever and the economic ties which definitely were mutually rewarding wasted, severed by distortion of due processes occasioned by wrong sense of judgment and absence of compassion in the management of our affairs. This incident is one of the many that could have happened across our country during the period and gone unreported. If the good Samaritan did not capture put this on net. Those who take in statistics won’t know.
If ours were to be a society of statistics by now we would have been appalled at the level of harm we inflict on ourselves by our reckless attitude to issues of daily living as well as through policies each successive leadership group throws on us. When they say “government has no business being in business”, statistics will show us clearly how many citizens get thrown into joblessness when we sell public concerns cheaply and shylock pseudo-business people get to sell components of such business concerns rather than investing more funds and turning them into very productive investments. We would also have known how many of our citizens die as a result of poverty when instead of building new refineries, we kill the ones we built and turn to importation of fuel which encourages huge capital flight.
Can anybody, including medical doctors, give us cogent reasons why any worker in very strategic sectors of national life such as health, security and judiciary should ever contemplate strike as part of solution for industrial harmony? Ask doctors and judicial workers why they went on strike, their leaders will say it is about improvements in service delivery. Take a close look and you will see the whole disagreement revolving around money. Doctors have said same yet the crux of conflict is money. What is this thing about money and placement? What makes them so strong and value filled far above human life? I read the Hippocratic Oath and couldn’t help feeling highly enraged. Where is prescription placed in this issue of strikes and death of patients? Yes money is good, it answers to all things. Can it be the highest truth that there is no other thing to which money be subordinated in the affairs of humanity? What could be greater than saving a life?
How about on-the-job ethics? Attitude to work, doctors and nurses feeling like gods sent to do the people special favour. It is as if these guys didn›t pass through formal training. We see disdain, nonchalance, no sign of empathy, you- may-die-for-all-I-care attitude including crafty means of extortion even from those they know can hardly afford to pay even one naira, who came to hospital because of a situation far beyond their control.
My relatives and friends in similar vocation in other countries tell us no one health worker can exhibit those mentioned traits and remain on the job a day longer. As government works to deal with the issues regarding the doctors’ strike, issues of professionalism must be handled alongside. Healthcare workers must be made to understand that they must care and comfort patients, if there is any complaint one is fired. The question is: why is everything upside down in our society? Why would very essential workers choose the strike option? How come we lost compassion and our humanity? How come?