HEWAN symposium: Give adequate information to Nigerians – LUTH CMD urges
The Chief Medical Director of the Lagos University Teaching Hospital (LUTH), Prof. Chris Bode, yesterday charged members of the Health Writers Association of Nigeria (HEWAN) to strive towards disseminating adequate, accurate and timely information to Nigerians on their health needs to prevent rumour mongering which could be fatal to health.
In a speech as chairman of the association’s 7th Annual Symposium held at LUTH, Prof. Bode called on the journalists to collaborate with healthcare professionals to showcase he developments in the health sector and help restore the confidence of the people in the nation’s health care system.
“We, and I’m not talking about doctors alone but healthcare practitioners in general, are often too busy to showcase what we do (especially) these days that the dollar is selling for over four hundred to a dollar and we can’t go abroad the way we used to do.
“We will want you to reinstall that confidence that we needed to make our people know a lot of good work that the healthcare team is doing in Nigeria. (Now), we have open heart surgeries, all the transplantations and laparoscopy is routine in this hospital (LUTH). But these are just a tip of the iceberg. I don’t know how many patients we have at the Lagos State University Teaching Hospital, (LASUTH) at any time but we have close to 500 patients on admission here (LUTH). We must be doing something good for them to be here receiving treatment and like the good book says, many go back home rejoicing.”
Prof. Bode however wished many of the patients visited the hospitals early enough to get the best of treatment instead of waiting until they developed complications before being referred. Also he wished many of the patients could safely foot their hospital bills and urged the journalists to focus more on health financing in the country.
“I wish there will be somebody paying the bill. I met a man yesterday. He has already acquired a bill of millions of Naira because his son is (on admission) and he’s not out of the wood yet. They cannot afford to pay but does that make him less worthy of receiving the best treatment in Nigeria because he could not pay? I had to tell him ‘look, we’ll see what we can do.’ We’ll see how we would quietly assist him to say ‘don’t pay the bill.’ We’ll see how this child will get well without the man crippling his whole family.
“I wish you could write more about health care financing. Someone must pay the bill – be it government or health insurance. Out-of-pocket payment is not what we should be talking about. Each one of us insures our cars yet, we don’t have accidents in three years. But in your family, somebody goes to the hospital within three months yet, we don’t have any insurance – even when we have it, does it work, does it meet us at the point when we need it?
“These are the issues we want you to talk about. I don’t care about who comes to me (for treatment), I will treat that person like royalty but let that person pay so that when the next person comes, he can be treated otherwise one day, all the drugs will finish and I won’t be able to treat the next person.”
The LUTH CMD also believes that the current government has made some positive impact on the nation’s health care delivery system which ought to engage the attention of the health writers. He cited the reduction of industrial action by health practitioners saying this is fast becoming the norm in the sector.
“One thing, if anything stands out in the health care space, is that there’s suddenly a drastic reduction in the number of strike actions in the healthcare sector. You wonder why? Government has finally stood up to say if you don’t work you don’t get paid. Suddenly, everyone like their pay packet. I know of an association that has called a strike five times in this institution and nobody followed them. Contrast that with 2014 when we were on strike for almost eight months and government paid us.
“We will want you to help us highlight what is good for everyone of us. It may be you, your relations or it may be mine. But should anybody go to the hospital and you tell them ‘we are on strike’? No, it offends God, it offends humanity. We shouldn’t eulogise it, we shouldn’t even advance the causes of anybody that is calling that we should use strike action as a tool for industrial dispute.
“We are now regarded as essential service workers and we want you to help uphold it. Hold us to the line and ask us ‘why are you allowing this people to go on strike? Are you going to pay them?’Nobody that goes on strike today should be paid for that day. That’s what the government is saying now. It’s working, that’s what I’m telling you. So, let’s strengthen it.
“There are people who are annoyed by that, who don’t want it to happen because it’s like you’ve clipped their wings and will come up with all sorts of stories. I will beg us, as you’ve been doing, let us verify such issues. Call the CMD, call the CMAG and find out before we state such issues. We are not perfect yet but we are working towards it.”
Prof. Bode stressed the need for Nigerians to have confidence in the nation’s health care delivery system which he affirmed is working. His words:
“The system is working in Nigeria, I can assure you. There are so many hospitals in Nigeria established by the federal, states and private institutions that are doing a lot of good work. Let us encourage them.
“I feel ashamed when money has to go somewhere else – money that we don’t have. They are not better than us. We can improve on things and I can promise you, we shall continue to improve. Let us showcase what is good in our country because if even one or two people can afford to go abroad, all of us can’t afford to go. And even if all of us can afford to go, when they finish taking your money and they send back home can you afford to go back for your next appointment?
“These are the reasons we must showcase our home grown investment in healthcare, patronise it, constructively criticise it and make sure it works for the largest number of Nigerians,“ he urged.
… HEWAN gives award
… bags HEWAN award
The Health Writers Association of Nigeria (HEWAN) yesterday presented certificates of recognition to Prof. Chris Bode, the Chief Medical Director of LUTH and his counterpart at LASUTH, Prof. Wale Oke for their outstanding support to the association.
The immediate past President of HEWAN, Mr. Azoma Chikwe, in a citation while presenting the award said the two institutions led by the awardees have become very strong supporters of the association and have remained consistent in their assistance to the association, helping members to perform their duties of disseminating health information with ease.
He thanked them for their support and pledged that HEWAN and its members will continue to provide adequate and vital media coverage for their institutions as well as other Nigerian agencies providing critical healthcare services to Nigerians.