Saturday 10 June 2006

Unhealthy directors of Nigerian Health

Oafs in charge

My blood reached boiling point as I watched the episode of Bad Medicine in BBC World as the toad of a Health Minister in Nigeria (Professor Eyitayo Lambo) could not seem to take any interest or responsibility to investigate a swathe of rotten incidents in the University of Nigeria Teaching Hospital (UNTH) in Enugu.

A report was submitted to the Ministry of Health by NAFDAC the agency in charge of ensuring the quality of drugs available in Nigeria. This, within the months in which this minister was sworn in and he from his statements indicated he needed another report addressed specifically to him to take any action.

For once, I thought each minister’s tenure had a terminal end with no semblance of continuity; the sacked or redeployed minister simply has all his files and documents burnt as each new minister arrives for a clean-slate appointment. I hope not.

One cannot but commend Dr Dora Akunyili who in her crusade to rid Nigeria of fake, substandard and poisonous drugs internally and at source, has suffered various threats to her life.

Heart Starter stopper

The episode at the UNTH was palpable when it transpired that children had undergone major heart surgery with possible fake medications and in intensive care a particular child arrested and was administered ineffective adrenalin.

The visiting surgeons from the United States in exasperation simply concluded they were injecting the children with water.

When NAFDAC got in on the case, the results should have people like me asking for the institution of the death penalty for drug counterfeiters.

The forensic analysis conducted by NAFDAC came to the conclusion that the drugs were sourced from a local marketplace, a place many cautious people would not even deign to purchase basic electronic equipment.

It is all in the money

However, the web of intrigue goes further as popular block-buster drugs are copied and replicated sub-strength in countries like India and China and exported to countries where local collaborators fill their countries unconscionably with poisons.

Poison in the sense that certain drugs are supposed to exhibit potency when adjusting the chemical balance in the body in treatment – some are ineffective, some are of insufficient strength that the body develops resistance and others are just poisonous.

I could not bear the thought that some tested eye drops contained chemicals that should not be miles near the eyes – the possibility of blindness in the thought that one is receiving treatment of a condition gets relegated to divine providence than evident criminal activity.

Medical misdirection

The Reporter Olenka Frenkiel homed in on the feckless Medical Director of UNTH who completely feigned ignorance of the episode in his hospital; this just shows how people in authority can be so indifferent to their responsibilities.

In the case of both the Health Minister and the Medical Director, it should not have been about things landing on their desks, but them searching out issues in their departments and selflessly working to make things better.

Most especially those which have been in the news, but from my reading of their words, they probably do not keep up with the news either.

All we got was bluster, excuses and denials, I was disgusted to the point of violent vomit, Nigeria deserves better than these educated but seriously unintelligent oafs who are remiss of their briefs.

The sooner this issue moves in line with the crusade to ensure that anything ingested is exactly what it is purported to be and the weight of the law should come down heavily on all those who profit from trading in human misery, the better.

Important drugs should be working drugs

If we cannot trust our hospitals, especially teaching hospitals or the local apothecary, what hope do we have whilst we develop religious faith to pray through our healing?

The matter of the collusion or indifference of the major drug companies in this matter in their quest to protect their reputations leaves much to be desired.

I can understand if I ingest Viagra and find that my erectile dysfunction is not temporarily dissipated in lascivious passion, but having drugs injected to start the heart doing nothing cannot begin to illustrate why the war against drug counterfeiting needs to be the concerted effort of governments, agencies, industry and the public at large.

One thing is definite, that health minister and the medical director along with people of that ilk – surely must go and with them a public shaming of their stance.

Other references

Nigeria: UCH's Heart Matter: - First Heart Surgery in 28 years

Welcome to Nigeria- Federal Ministry of Health

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