Despite the proliferation of all sorts of healthcare providers, never before in history of this nation have we encountered such arrays of terminal diseases ravaging our people than now. From cancer and tuberculosis, liver and kidney diseases to malaria and cardiovascular diseases, the story is the same. People are dying in their hundreds and thousands, painfully from preventable and treatable diseases. And the root cause of this problem is nothing other than quackery and misinformation in health practice vis-à-vis drug abuse and misuse.
As long as good health remains an indispensable wealth, a healthy nation automatically becomes a wealthy nation. Therefore, to move from an underdeveloped state and become a developed nation, it is imperative for us to sincerely x-ray the possible causes of terminal diseases that ravage our people so as to proffer solutions that we should live and enjoy good health.
Now is the right time when through proper dissemination of information, and adoption of multi-prong pragmatic approaches, people should be educated on the need to enjoy top health, and earnestly encouraged to get it. And the first step to doing this is through prevention not treatment. Why? Prevention is better than cure. The next is by seeking and engaging the services of qualified and competent clinicians. However, this will be an effort in futility until all the quacks in health profession or a greater percentage of them are identified and eradicated especially the so called “cure-all” traditional/alternative/herbal doctors who are but heartless fraudsters. And nothing has been implicated more than their concoctions and decoctions as primary cause of heart, liver and kidney diseases! And trailing behind them are the patent medicine dealers who would often bug patients with countless “mixtures.” They derive joy in mixing different tablets/capsules they know nothing about, and our people in display of ignorance run to them for treatment! I don’t intend to insult or belittle anyone but I must state without fear or favour that it is only in traditional medicine parlance that one can become a “doctor” without passing through the four walls of primary school. Some of them would even be proud to tell you that they become doctors after finishing from “driving school” or inherited it from their great grand parents yet they carry out their nefarious acts with boldness and all kinds of media hype!
Thusly, ignorant patients and patients’ relatives who go to them in search of solution to their problems end up complicating them. Instead of getting relief or being treated, they get more grief as they become more diseased courtesy of coloured/flavoured concentrated alcohol given to them in the name of medicine. Before they could realize the sham, they would have exhausted their money, and funny enough they might not be allowed access again into the so-called health centre or clinic. This is pure medical fraud and gross wickedness by man against man.
Howbeit, the existence of fake is indication that there is original. That there are quack traditional/alternative doctors is a clear proof that genuine ones exist though they might be very few in this country. To this end, regardless of title or prefix, every qualified/competent practitioner should proudly subject him/herself for registration and control by relevant regulatory body otherwise more people would fall victim of the medical fraud that is making mockery of medical services. Having said this, every regulatory body and indeed the masses should commend and not condemn anyone whose work is genuine; they should also encourage not antagonize their rivals not minding their school of thought as long as such work is result oriented but not the type that is common with placebo effect.
It needs to be stated that every field of human endeavour harbour some degree of quackery and fakery. There are also quacks in orthodox/conventional medicine because certificate does not make a graduate, but they are more in traditional/alternative/herbal medicine. Eradication of these charlatans who have kept people’s health hostage would to a large extent help to sanitize the health institution and in turn give patients/patients’relatives/clients the right to repose confidence in health profession as well as make their own health decisions and liberate themselves from today’s most common diseases.
The next approach that would ensure maintenance of good health in this country is timely integration of all HealthCare Delivery Services for holistic purpose. There is an urgent need to integrate conventional/orthodox and traditional/ alternative medicines for the common good of the people. Somebody somewhere may shout blue murder! But there is actually nothing to fear especially when, after the integration, every aspect and department of health profession will still be handled and managed only by qualified and competent professionals or personnel respectively. To do this, there must be genuine intention and collaboration by all stakeholders so that at the end, there will be promotion of professionalism in health sector whereby healthcare givers offer only what they are trained and competent to provide.
Just as no one is self-sufficient, no aspect or type of health/medical practice can adequately meet the health need of this nation alone hence the need to cooperate and work together as a team. Without mincing words, it should be noted that every aspect/type of medical practice has its area of comparative advantage over others. Therefore, no person or profession should feel threatened by the corporate existence and operation of another person as long as everyone practices within his limit and regulation.
However, because without drug, the health profession has no substance, the pharmacist who is the only custodian and expert of drug must, as a matter of professional obligation, endeavour to regulate the production, distribution, dispensing and use of all drugs whether conventional/orthodox or traditional/herbal drugs to ensure the safety, efficacy and potency of whatever drug that is being used.
To achieve this fit, all hands must be on deck. Regulatory bodies such as Pharmacists Council of Nigeria (PCN), Medical And Dental Council of Nigeria (MDCN), Traditional Medicine Board, National Agency for Food And Drug Administration And Control (NAFDAC) on one hand, and professional bodies like Pharmaceutical Society of Nigeria (PSN), Nigeria Medical Association (NMA), nursing and others too numerous to mention on the other hand must conscientiously and harmoniously work together for the health of the people and the wealth of the nation. Every genuine attempt towards achieving this would also stop the bickering and fight over superiority among health professionals. Thereafter, adequate awareness should be created with everyone working as his brother’s keeper. And for this to be effective there is need to review the entry point and salary scheme of all health workers without making anyone look unnecessarily superior!
Moreover, because belief is an integral aspect of psychotherapy, aiding the healing process, except in cases of emergency, every patient without bias should be allowed to choose when necessary where and with what type of drug to be treated.
This proposal would definitely provoke discussion and even contradictions yet its suggestions are feasible and achievable if all concerned would think in terms of what they should provide for this nation and not necessarily what this nation should provide for them. No sacrifice can be too much for nation building. Therefore, I call on all stakeholders to join hands now and form this amalgamation for a better, healthy tomorrow. Doing this would be the best health reform in Nigeria, and in it lies the secret for the much publicized health for all.