Column Opinion

Poor Nigerians And The Duchess Treatment

By Prince Charles Dickson PhD

So, in case you missed the story. I reproduce it below—

The Vice President, Prof. Yemi Osinbajo at the weekend insisted on using a Nigerian hospital and medical experts for the surgical operation to correct a fracture on his right femur despite the advice of his doctors for him to go abroad for the operation.

 It was supposed to be an achievement and one that we need to commend him for and praise him as is the case with many things normal in other climes but abnormal in ours.

According to sources close to Duchess International Hospital in Ikeja, Lagos, where the operation took place on Saturday, some of the government and private practice doctors of the vice president made the suggestion because the going abroad option was often usually considered by such a class of patients and at times the option could also seem more seamless.

First, let me state categorically that the hospital is not for the poor, it is not for the masses “The DUCHESS International Hospital is a state-of-the-art, purpose-built, fully ensuite 100-bed hospital facility delivering a comprehensive range of primary, secondary and tertiary healthcare services across a wide range of specialist and subspecialty areas. The DUCHESS is situated in the heart of the Lagos mainland within the residential and industrial suburb of Ikeja. Its well-appointed, ultra-modern high-end facilities are located within a few minutes of the Murtala Muhammed International Airport and within walking distance of some of the leading hotel establishments in the city. The DUCHESS is 90 minutes by air from any state capital in Nigeria, and accessible within two hours from most major capital cities across West Africa.”

This hospital has Nigerian and foreign doctors, you can book online. It does the following: Breast Care Services, Cardiothoracic Services, Dialysis, Endoscopy, Family medicine and Urgent Care (UCC), General Surgery, Weight Loss (Bariatric) and Metabolic Surgery and then it has the Royal London Clinic where Patients receive one-to-one care 24-hours a day with access to a dedicated team of medical personnel and hospitality staff. Patients receive gourmet meals fully catered to their taste.

Each Duchess Royal suite includes a separate lounge, ensuite bedroom and guest amenities. The Royal London Clinic offers a suite of clinical consulting rooms with telemedicine facilities, available for private consultations with sub-specialty Consultants from various parts of the world.

This is not an advert for the hospital, not for the ordinary and in another phrase, it is a foreign hospital in our local clime.

See the lies that followed–

His preference to have the surgery done in Nigeria was also being regarded as a major boost for the government’s often stated objective of a reversed medical tourism as some voices in the healthcare sector have expressed excitement at the Vice President’s choice.

Osinbajo was also said to have argued that doing the operation in Nigeria would not only encourage Nigerian doctors who are among the best anywhere in the world, but it would also help develop the capacity here in Nigeria and further build on the medical infrastructure in the country.

“The VP’s view is that most people don’t even know the facilities exist here. Besides, we have some of the best doctors available anywhere,” the official disclosed. If you cannot see the lies, then we are blind—how do poor people know about such facilities?

In case we missed it, the hospital gives an update on his healing process through the CEO of all persons, after the surgery we are informed; Vice-President Yemi Osinbajo is making good and steady progress… “He is very compliant, listens to advice and as such, he is able to make the sort of progress that we expect.“He is undergoing physiotherapy as part of his rehabilitation process.“The multidisciplinary team that has been involved with his care have been very pleased with the progress that he is making,”.

Which local hospital will do this, better still which General Hospital or Teaching Hospital or Specialist Hospital in Nigeria will do this. Which patient in Nigeria will get this kind of treatment, how many Nigerians can afford it?

Do you hear the name of the hospital, the elitist sound and name, how do we then say that this is a local hospital. Maybe it is a case of because it is in Nigeria, and he is paying in local currency. Can the Lagos born vice president cross his heart and say that anyone from the state can afford the Duchess treatment, is it possible for the ordinary Nigerian citizen to access same level of safe healthcare he is receiving.

A hospital that medical decisions are made within the first few minutes with precision. Where you are far more likely to see a specialist consultant within the first 10 minutes.


Why has government refused to litter the entire nation with the Duchess healthcare, why can’t our Federal Medical Hospitals be like the Duchess with 24-hour emergency and critical care, having the right governance arrangement both clinically and administratively based on all the things that contribute to a robust environment, improved access, affordable cost of health care, access to essential services, and having specialist, front to end the services.

Why can we as a nation, at all levels embark on urgent reforms to revitalise healthcare delivery in Nigeria, a sector highly under-resourced with all our doctors leaving en masse.

Sick politicians, sick followership, sick nation, but we keep moving one day at a time. We won’t die, we have a strong resolve, and we believe that it cannot end just like that. Our immune system defies medical logic.

We have saddled upon ourselves a history tainted in intra elitist cleavages and ethnic parapoism, with each power bloc cementing its own cleavages. The possibility of genuine democratization is not only lost because we lack the will to radicalize the material foundations of our society but because we live a life of fallacy.

We are almost certainly either a sick nation or a sick people, maybe a sick people inhabiting an equally sick nation. Our leaders continue to lie to us. The vice president’s handlers or that of the hospital cannot explain why the president who has in the last seven years embarked on more than a handful medical tourism cannot visit them, and subject himself to their care, beyond that flimsy excuse of his doctors are in the UK and they know his body balderdash.

Nigeria is splitting, it is not dividing, we are leaking in various holes, towards various leanings and we still are lacking in leadership that has any model to solve our mirage of problems. When they tell lies like this with Duchess precision, they need to be reminded that even the clinic with billions appropriated for it, still lacks the basics, infact according to the first lady the clinic in unable to provide even Paracetamol tablets despite a budget of N3 billion for the provision of drugs to the hospital. Its x-ray machine is not even functional!

We still are in a class war, a rich Vs poor, a government that has lost its compass and a people lost in direction. Reality is that, we are not a nation, and fact is we are not yet dividing, and more strangely we are sliding down the abyss with each of our actions and inactions.

For all the pseudo-intellectuals this nation has, we have and continue to invest in debating ethno-religious affiliations while the elites sustain their ‘parapoitic’ existence, and the populace is left to bear the brunt of a self-inflicted class suicide.

Let me end with the Zebra puzzle, I eavesdropped into some young men’s discuss in my office, and though I did not catch the whole conversation, it was about the proverbial zebra and its stripe–the question was, is the zebra a white animal with black stripes or a black animal with stripes that are white…are we a nation with problems, or one that has simply defied solutions—Only time will tell.

Contact the writer: pcdbooks@gmail.com

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