By Bala Ibrahim
The plight of the medics in Kano is increasingly becoming pathetic, particularly those in constant contact with the patients, and unless something positive or pragmatic is done, the situation may go poignant. It is a fact that all over the world, health care facilities are potentially hazardous workplaces that expose the medics to a variety of dangers, but signing a contract to save lives, does not mean signing a contract to sell life, particularly one’s life.
According to the National Association of Nigerian Nurses and Midwives, 18 nurses have tested positive for coronavirus in Kano this week. This was disclosed by the Chairman of the Kano branch of the association, Mr Ibrahim Maikarfi Muhammad, who said, 86 samples of nurses were taken, out of which 18 tested positive for the virus.
On Monday, the Kano branch of the Nigeria Medical Association, disclosed that 34 medical doctors had also tested positive for COVID-19 in Kano. For a state with the highest population in Nigeria, and one that has been suffering the shortage of medics and general medical facilities, this is not only pitiful, but distressingly disturbing.
Nigeria is still lagging behind from the recommendations of the World Health Organization, WHO, on the required number of medical personnel to cater efficiently for its teeming population, and Kano is amongst the states with the bad record of this poor doctor to patient ratio. Therefore anything that would further deplete this delicate balance, would certainly spell disaster for the state.
The state is destined for doom, as the problem of the pandemic becomes more precarious, if the medics keep getting infected. With the closure of all private clinics in Kano, patients are compulsorily directed to the public hospitals, where the medics are not only overstretched and overwhelmed, but extremely apprehensive to approach patients, because of the absence of efficient personal protective equipments.
If we add the burden of high work load, verbal abuse from disgruntled patients, sour work relationships due to frustrations and limited resources, even if the medics don’t die prematurely due to infections, they are liable to suffer psychological stress, depression or the burnout syndrome. The cost or consequence of these misfortunes, on a state like Kano, that is facing the biggest health challenge ever, is akin to a woe, worse than a whammy.
The general expectation is that, because there is always the challenge or occupational health and safety risk, of the healthcare workers facing infections from exposure to blood and body fluids, or some air-borne diseases, as such, adequate arrangement would be made to safeguard them through the provision of all equipments. Unfortunately, in Kano, the situation is mostly the opposite.
With the coming of Covid19, and the regular warnings that the disease can be contracted through physical contact and airborne droplets, every reasonable mind would assume the government would go extra, in giving additional protection to those in the frontline.
Reports from the hospitals are saying, many medical doctors and nurses, are simply staying away from work for their own safety, a development that is lending credence to the speculated reason behind the surge in deaths in the state. Yes, if the medic is not safe, he can’t guarantee the patient’s safety.
The health system in Kano is facing multifaceted problems, with nepotism, particularly the internal interference from inside the Governor’s house being topmost. This is giving way to loss of morale and a lack of confidence on the system.
The zeal and keenness of hundreds of volunteers, who responded to the call of the state for medical assistance, was frustrated by the show of such favoritism from the Governor’s house, who preferred relatives or friends of madam or her daughter, to the services of competent and professional hands with experience.
This has not only put a spanner in the fight against the Covid-19 in the state, but is also working contrary to the ambition of the Primary health care system, which is suppose to be an integrated and people-centered approach to health and human wellbeing.
The foundation of every health system is the provision of health care to the people, and ensuring that they receive quality health care whenever they need it. And quality service can only come from qualified personnel. If nepotism is permitted to play, the result would be the reverse. At the end, the people would be turned into less prosperous patients.
While appreciating the Federal government, for lamenting over the continued infection of doctors and nurses managing the pandemic, and urging them to adhere to all the standard Infection, Prevention and Control, IPC, measures, it is important for the federal government to know that, the medics can only adhere to the rules of what is made available. It is therefore expected, that the federal government would go further, by taking punitive measures on states that seem insensitive to the safety of their hospital staff. This should be done, before they murder all the medics.
Like the leaders, the medics are human beings. If we continue to murder them through our own mediocracies, gread and selfishness, we are simply being inhuman. You can not be a human being, without being human.