I am just as disgruntled as many Nigerians over the trips of President Buhari of the shores of Nigeria to seek medical care. Worse still, this is a President who promised to stop medical tourism.
I have nothing to say about his performance as the President of Nigeria because truly, I have nothing to say; absolutely nothing. I however have to speak up for his failure as President to exercise wisdom about his medical care.
First, he broke his own promise to the electorate and he feels he has no obligation to explain his reasons to his constituency for his decision about his actions. While he has the freedom to make choices, as a President, such personal freedom has huge implications for the country. In this case, I make no reference to the cost he incurred for his treatment. He said he personally paid his bills and I believe him. However, his resort to seek medical help outside the country – including his follow up treatment – says a lot about the failed medical health system in the country.
I am a dentist. I once needed to remove my gall bladder. I could not stay in my hospital to do the surgery because the entire system was sick. I was asked to ask my kids to come stay with me in the hospital while I will be on admission. I sought care from a private hospital.
The current tussles in the health care system are manifestations of the delinquency at play in the health sector: a crumpling system a few are fighting to salvage. Very much like what we saw happen with the education sector. People will have to pay through their nose for access to private health care to get some form of quality service.
I say ‘form’ as a friend from the United States once visited the hyped highly rated medical care hospital – Redington in Lagos – and she was extremely disappointed.
I once had a monitoring visit round the health care services with an American resident in Kenya some years back. Throughout our two-day monitoring visits, he did not utter a word. On the final day when we had to debrief, all he said was ‘is this a healthcare system?’. Our clinics are in shambles, a shadow of what it ought to be.
I had visited health care centres in Kenya, South Africa and Leeds. I need not tell readers that the systems and structures of health care service delivery in Nigeria are poor. We have great paper works. We have poor quality health care delivered. So I do understand why the President will need to seek medical care outside of his own country.
Sadly, I would have expected that he used his ill health to address the malady howbeit a little of it – invest funds from friends and well wishers to build or renovate a health care centre to the required standards to provide befitting health care for a president. Then, invite the experts from anywhere in the world to come manage him in the country along with other Nigerian doctors. Doctors can learn new skills this way. President Buhari would have left a legacy forever and also showed the way for other politicians to go.
He missed that. His medical care outside the country is causing capital flight. Yet, he thinks he has a justification to stop and prosecute others who export monies through other means. No, he has no such justification as he has not led by example.
Once again, the President has the right to freedom of choices as this is his human right. I respect that. However, his choice in this matter raises an ethical dilemma based on his action while seated as a President. The elite choice he made in the face of the inability of many to make such elite choices makes his action a crime.
I am a child dentist. I made a choice to serve my country in the presence of alternative options. I expect nothing less from a president who swore to serve his country. I expected a lot more from President Buhari in the light of his current actions.
For a man who can make change happen, the very reason I supported his vote into power, I am extremely disappointed.