Speak, Act and Help

Let me tell you all a story. It goes thus:
“Oga! Go and pay for oxygen, your child needs it. Time is running out on him”, the doctor says. “See doctor, e don do. I no dey do again; make una no dey try for the child again. And even sef, I no get money pay for oxygen”, says the father of a newly born child. At this point, I thought. “Wow. Would the state of poverty cause a man to lose his newly born child just like that?” And then something else happened.
“But Sir, your child can’t breathe properly. Okay, if money is the problem, take this ₦3000. Go and pay for oxygen”, replies the doctor. “Oga”, replies the man, “no be money dey do me. I just don tire. Make una no worry una selves”. At this point, I got the confusion of a lifetime.
This story was narrated to me by a classmate who was on a paediatric posting and was present at the time this happened. A two-day old child was born in a state of respiratory distress and the oxygen would have kept the child alive while the doctors tried to stabilise the child.
Something about the medical profession is that you get to see the good, the bad and the really ugly situations. This was an ugly situation. The father was willing to let his child die. I don’t know if he felt he could “produce” more children, but the fact that he could let his child go was a problem for me.
These are problems that one gets to see a lot in the medical line – poverty and ignorance – particularly from the clinical aspect of school upwards.
Poverty is a very crucial factor in the medical line. A doctor informs a patient that for him to make a proper diagnosis of a chest lesion, the patient has to do a CT scan. Sure a chest X-ray can provide some sort of information, but a CT scan would be optimal. The patient can’t afford to do a CT scan so he does only a chest X-ray. What can the doctor do but manage that? Or a surgical patient who can’t afford a staple pin that has higher chances of not leaving a scar, and so has to manage a needle suture. These things hinder both the practise and the learning of medicine. Because at this rate, how many CT scans would we the students get to see and learn from?
There was a time a woman presented to the clinic with a massive breast tumour. This woman was obese. Now imagine a massive tumour on a woman of massive size. Yes, that bad. When she presented to the hospital, she told the doctor that she had had the problem for nearly six years and that she had been told that it was impacted breast milk 6 years ago. Her last child was 30 years of age. And immediately the doctor saw the mass, of course he knew what it was. He then asked her if she knew what breast cancer was and she started screaming, “God forbid, it would never happen in my family. It’s not my portion”. I am a Christian, but I didn’t see how God was involved in this.
This is a classic case of how ignorance in our society leads to a lot of death. Of course, we medical students get to see a lot of conditions this way (no bad thoughts here). But if left unchecked, this may prove detrimental to the medical line eventually.
Some of us get to interact with patients or their relatives. I have seen people go to any length to save their loved ones. I have also seen people give up for various reasons. Why is this so? Ignorance? Poverty? Any other reason? It all boils down to one thing – lives are lost.
But what can we do about it? The simplest things in large amounts can go a long way. We all have to go through the stress of clerking patients in clinical school right? As medical students and future practitioners, we can talk to the patients. Let them know what is right. And for those who can afford it, help with any amount you can, no matter how. We can fight ignorance and help the poor. Our profession doesn’t just involve reading all day. Let’s help in the little ways.
I am sure I am not the only one with stories of negative things seen. So please feel free to comment below so we can help create awareness of things going on around us. Both things we can see and not see.

Akande Michael Bolatito

Akande Michael is a a final year medical student of the University of Ibadan. He started as a blogger for Pendical and is currently pushing for greater strides for the group. He also volunteers at medical Non-Governmental Organizations in order to promote healthy living among people in his community. His hobbies are reading novels (mainly fantasy, science fiction, and crime thrillers), singing, writ- ing, and playing football. He does all these while still going through the rigours of medical school. He likes helping people and hopes to meet the needs of very many people through his course of choice. He is the third child out of four, because of which growing up was a big struggle.

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One Comment

  1. Nice write up, Health education is key… Thats why we need more community health practitioners or at least more community health initiatives. Cheers

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