An open letter to Nigerian doctors – Dr Job Amodu

Nigerian doctors and their numerous challenges. A medical doctor writes a letter warning and admonition to his colleagues. 

Dear colleagues,

I have to quickly put pen to paper after reading the theme of this year’s Nigerian Bar Association Annual General meeting : “Medical Negligence: Time to change the narrative”. This theme is a wake up call for ALL of us. It is no longer “business as usual”.

Our learned colleagues are coming together to tinker on how to curb our excesses. Whilst commending them on this choice of topic, which am sure is in the best of national interest, I call on ALL of us to be on the alert.

Our elders say the canary dancing along the bush path, the drummer is not far off. They also say that he who must come to equity must do so with clean hands. In the last one year or more, the news that have trended mainly in the media are: firstly, the issue of medical brain drain, and how doctors are leaving the country in droves for various reasons and secondly the attack on the Judiciary for various corruption charges from the invasion of their private quarters and discovery of ridiculous amounts of currencies, and the unceremonial removal of the head of the Judiciary.
Nigerian doctors
Nigerian doctors performing a surgery

One would expect that the topic then should be “Judicial corruptive negligence and ineptitude. Time to change the narrative”.

Well we can’t do much about the topic of the AGM but we can do a lot on our own attitude to our work as MEDICAL DOCTORS. A lot of times, focus is more on the rights of our patients without little or no emphasis on our own rights as doctors as we practise our profession?
We have the right
1. To practise in a well equipped environment(hospital) to the best of our knowledge. And where the basic equipments are lacking such as defibrillators we can not practise. We are not magicians.
2. To practise in a secured environment.
We have heard time and time again of how doctors or their relatives are kidnapped, attacked by patients (or their relatives) at thier duty posts or even in the comfort of thier homes. That has to stop !
3. To be properly and fairly remunerated by our employers.
This is one of the main reasons why doctors are leaving the country in very large numbers.
4. The right to basic healthcare. Doctors are collapsing and dying at home, at their duty posts because of lack of basic health amenities not assessible to them.
Every year most doctors are part of the annual health check ups for various organisations; but how many of them have access to such annual health check ups themselves . This must change. YOU CAN NOT GIVE WHAT YOU DON’T HAVE.
Every year most doctors are part of the annual health check ups for various organisations; but how many of them have access to such annual health check ups themselves . This must change. YOU CAN NOT GIVE WHAT YOU DON’T HAVE.
We have to be healthy to be vanguards of good health! These are just a few of the rights of doctors that have not been upheld. Therefore colleagues, we have to protect ourselves by adhering to the following:
1. Thou shalt protect your profession. Respect yourself as a doctor; respect your fellow doctors- junior or senior. DO NOT PUT DOWN a fellow doctor to either look good or for the fun of it. It will always come back to haunt us.
2. Thou shalt not treat a patient that is abusive to you.
If a patient or their relatives abuses, attacks or assaults you QUICKLY MAKE A REPORT to your employers and you reserve the right not to treat such a patient. This however is valid if you have not done anything wrong hitherto!
3. Don’t be a “super- doctor”.
Don’t prescribe over the phone, or treat photographs. Know when to refer patients to get the expert care. DO NOT KEEP PATIENTS in your facility if you don’t have the expertise, or equipments to give the optimal care at any point in time.
4. Always communicate, document and time your interactions, encounters with your patients, even their relatives.
God bless the Nigerian Doctor.
Signed Dr Job Amodu
Also read about the first female igbo doctor, one of the prominent Nigerian doctors here
The letter by Dr. Job Amodu was first shared on Twitter by Dr. Afam John.   

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