COVID-19 DEATHS: TIME FOR NMA/MDCAN TO TAKE A STAND

Dr Paul John ,Port Harcourt ,08083658038,mazipauljohn@gmail.com

My classmate who recently left this country for greener pasture abroad once discussed with me concerning his ugly experience in a so-called federal health institution he was working with. His team operated a patient and the next day the patient’s Lassa fever test result came out positive. The team members after collecting their sick-leave from their attending medical doctor in the centre, immediately proceeded on self isolation for 21 days in order to save their patients and their respective family members.

Five days later, the Chief Medical Director (CMD) called him and other team members and threatened that if they did not return to work the next working day that their appointments would be terminated. This threat was coming from a supposed senior colleague who knew about the incubation period and quarantine period of Lassa fever and the need for self isolation for those exposed in order to prevent the spread of the disease.  The CMD was aware of the incident that led to the team members going into self-isolation. At this point, my friend and his team members were at the verge of losing their employments if they continued with the self isolation.

The Minister of Health

The CMD sat in his office and cancelled the sick-leave even when he was aware that no other doctor could cancel a sick-leave issued by another doctor, unless the new doctor conducted his own examination on the patient. The CMD went ahead to threaten the doctor who issued the sick-leave to cancel it and she was about succumbing to pressures from the management but the doctor who issued the sick-leave was again reminded that she had no  right to cancel the sick-leave she issued  unless she carried out  a second review which would invalidate the first one.

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At this point, my professional services were contracted. I instructed them to tell the CMD that they would not come out of their self isolation until the 21 days had passed and they did not show any symptoms of Lassa fever.  Moreso, on completion of the self isolation they would go for Lassa fever  test and wait for the results before resuming their duties. I told them that they should be expressive and should not allow the CMD cow them into accepting what would affect public health as contained in rule 44 of the Codes of Medical Ethics (COME). The CMD is just like any other Nigerian leader who operates with capitalist mentality.

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We let the CMD know that that if anything happened to the affected doctors’ salaries or their employments then they would not only seek redress in the law-court according to s.46 of the Nigerian constitution, as amended and relevant sections of our Labour laws, but will also publish all the conversations between them and the CMD for the Nigerian Public to see . After that conversation the CMD never called them again and did not tamper with their  salaries  or employments because our people say when you wake up in the morning  and a chicken pursues you, then you should run because you do not know if it developed teeth in the night. I am aware that the said CMD would have come to realize that the responses of these junior doctors had some legal backings and connotations hence he decided to drop the matter but before then we had briefed the commissioner of Health in the state of the developments and he visited the said tertiary health institution and that was the end of the matter.

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There are many unreported cases in many of our public hospitals today. All that we hear nowadays when one goes to any of the doctors’ social media platforms is this person or that person has died of Covid-19 .For the past one week Nigerian doctors have lost not less than ten senior colleagues to Covid-19, most of the deceased were consultants  or professors or both. How many years does it take to produce one consultant or one professor in the medical profession that we shall fold our hands and allow them die just like that?

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Do we have to wait and allow the foreigners to give us statistics or for them to teach us that prognosis of Covid-19 is worse when there are co-morbidities or when the age of the patient is 50 years and above? If some state governments could give directives to their civil servants at certain levels in the service to work from home, why can’t Nigerian Medical Association (NMA) or Medical and Dental Consultants’ Association of Nigeria (MDCAN) come out to issue a similar directive to their members from 45 years and above or those with co-morbidities to work from home? I arbitrarily chose 45 years instead of 50 years because it is better not to eat from the same plate with the devil even when you have the proverbial long spoon because no matter how you position yourself on the dining table, the saliva of the devil may still contaminate your own portion of the food.

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The existence of NMA should not be felt when the controversial NMA building levy is discussed and MDCAN should not only be vocal and conspicuous when the NUC-sponsored PhD/Fellowship dichotomy is being discussed. To me, issuing communiqués or press statements without ensuring their proper implementations is time wasting and should be avoided.

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Health workers are not exempted from Covid-19 pandemic

To my senior colleagues who love their patients more than their lives in this era of Covid-19 pandemic, our lord Jesus said love your neighbour as yourself. That means you must love yourself first before loving your neighbour (patient). I have not seen any bible translation that wrote ‘’love yourself as your neighbour”.  A line in the new Hippocratic Oath reads: I will attend to my own health, well-being, and abilities in order to provide care of the highest standard.

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Remember that it is easier for the proverbial carmel to pass through the eye of a needle than the managements of our so-called public hospitals to provide common facemasks for their workers. They will come on air to tell the public how all health workers in their hospitals were well provided with Protective Personal Equipment (PPE) and all sorts of crap when they are aware that there is nothing in place to combat the deadly virus in their centres.

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Finally, those medical elders above 50 years who are still risking their lives in coming to work because they are afraid of queries from their hospital managements or being summoned by NMA/MDCN panel/tribunal for medical negligence of not attending to the patients under their care as contained in rule 29 of COME, I will only refer you to the words of the biblical Job in Job 22:2 and it reads: Can a man be profitable unto God (now represented by your CMD, MD,NMA or MDCN tribunal/panel) , as he that is wise may be profitable unto himself?  If you are wise you will remember that the maximum respect you can get when you die of Covid-19 contracted in the course of your work is one minute silence which in most times will not be up to one minute because your colleagues have other engagements for the day as outpatient clinics will still run, patients will be operated on in our theaters and ward-rounds will still be held the same day.

Also remember that on the day of your burial that department you want to die for will still be functional and patients will not even know somebody is gone back to his creator. I don’t want to talk about the space your demise will create for the post part 2 colleagues who are without jobs after exiting the residency training . Remember late Dr Stella Ameyo Adedevoh and her dependents before you sacrifice your life for a country that does not know that you exist.

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He who is wise will be profitable to himself

I have decided not to mention the names of Nigerian doctors who died of Covi-19 nationwide in the past one week because though Covid-19 pandemic is a ‘notifiable’ disease as contained in rule 44 of COME cited supra, these departed heroes still have their rights to private and family life as contained in s.37 of the Nigerian constitution, as amended   and rights to privacy of health status as contained in rule 25 of COME.

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