The entire world is in dire straits right now. The uncertainty is palpable and we are almost at the point of resignation to the possibility of darker days ahead. Like a meteorite, a hitherto unknown virus struck with the vengeance of a serial killer. From one country, the Coronavirus has spread its raging tentacles to more than 150. Asia, Europe, and Africa have felt the wrath of the unwanted guest and its unrelenting in its efforts to bring humanity to its knees.
It’s a frightening mix of puzzlement and agitation to see world superpowers struggle to contain the ravaging pandemic.
Despite their excellent medical facilities and a stellar reputation for tackling emergencies, stemming the onslaught of COVID-19 has proved to be a different proposition. One that has medics and caregivers stretched to capacity.
On this side of the world, the story isn’t much different. Even though Africa has yet to record the astronomic numbers countries like China, Italy, and Spain have hit, the prognosis is scarier if the situation escalates.
Nigeria has seen a steady increase in the number of infected citizens since the first case involving an Italian. A worrisome development especially in the light of its health infrastructure relative to its huge population.
The deplorable state of health facilities and abysmal welfare of doctors and nurses means that Nigeria has a disgruntled health worker population.
Doctors who are only waiting to take their PLAB exams and join the exodus that has now become a norm in the indigenous medical community.
These days everyone is stuck at home. It doesn’t matter where you belong on the social strata rung, you’re required to do what’s right for yourself and others through social distancing. Heaven forbid you to experience the semblance of an itchy throat or mild fever; your heart begins to do double flips while your brain goes into permutation mode in a bid to recall how you may have exposed yourself to a COVID-19 sufferer.
And as high profile individuals and government officials continue to form the majority of those who have contracted the virus at a time when medical tourism is impossible, it’s an instructive development.
The irony perches at the peak of the highest mountain—impossible to miss—hard to ignore.
If anyone had predicted there would come a time when Nigeria’s super-rich would be restricted to the country, the rest of us would have scoffed and labelled them a false prophet.
Our moneybags and nouveau riches have always sought solace in the impeccable health system of the western world.
I have met a few people who do not patronise any health facility within Nigeria. They have scheduled medical appointments and routine check-ups abroad because they do not trust the quality of services on offer here.
The vast majority of our public officials fall in this category; a stomach upset there, a light headache, and they are on the next flight to the UK. Every year, billions are budgeted for the upgrade of general hospitals, but somehow, they are “lost in transmission”.
Till his death, my dad lamented the moribund and in some cases, non-existent machines required to treat his teeming cancer patients. Sometimes, it was a weary generator that served as an alternate power source in the hospital; long overdue for a replacement. Successive governments came, yet no one bothered with a massive turnaround of such a critical sector.
It’s safe to assume they thought they would never feel the impact of their negligence. Until now.
Nigerians have screamed themselves hoarse over the inept leadership of the country. For the discerning, it’s even more heartwrenching considering the ginormous potential the nation has been imbued with.
And it’s not difficult—you asked to be saddled with responsibility, by Jove—do it!
At least do the basics; fix healthcare, provide infrastructure, make education a priority, and watch people thrive.
Our leaders are well-travelled. They have seen it all when it comes to the loveliest landscapes, efficient systems and processes instituted by responsible and responsive governments, yet are somehow unable to replicate the same thing here.
I have always believed that doing the right thing benefits the doer just as must as it benefits the receiver, perhaps even more.
There’s a peace that comes with doing what one is supposed to do. There are satisfaction and sense of pride that one enjoys when one backs up their talk with action.
And there’s the uncanny part—the twist of fate that ensures that somehow, one enjoys the gains or experiences the discomfort that accompanies doing right or wrong.
No society thrives against the backdrop of selfishness.
When we do the right thing, we do it for ourselves.