Amukoko, Lagos, Nigeria – 1987
‘Push! Push!! Madam, keep pushing,’ a voice resonated from within the room.
‘I’m dying…please help me…’ another voice groaned.
‘Shut up woman and just obey my instructions,’ the first voice commanded.
‘Okay…I’ll try…oh…the pains…’
Few minutes later the sound of a new born baby echoed around the room.
‘Look at her lying like a log of wood,’ the first voice teased, ‘come on open your eyes and carry your baby.’
‘Stop playing pranks woman,’ the first voice chided, ‘open your eyes and carry your baby; it’s a boy!’
The cries of the new born baby boy, increased as though he could discern the tragedy in the room.
‘Oh my goodness! I’m finished…she’s gone…’
Few minutes later, the door of the house creaked open and an excited father comes in.
‘I can hear the sound of my bundle of joy already…’
‘I’m… sorry… sir,’ the midwife spoke solemnly, ‘She’s dead!’
Fifteen years later…
‘Oga, please attend to us; we’ve been on the queue for three good hours!’ Enitan complained to the health official in charge of disbursing the free drugs.
‘Who are you to challenge my authority?’ the aggressive man retorted, ‘are you to teach me my job?’
Just then a couple walked into the health centre and, shunting the queue, went straight to the health official and slipped a brown envelope into his hand. And right in the presence of other aggrieved, impatient crowd, the couple walked away happily with two plastic bags.
‘But this is injustice!’ an embittered lady cried out from the crowd, ‘oga, you just told us to hold on…’
‘Can’t you see he has received a bribe?’ Enitan added, ‘the gift has blinded his eyes to justice.’
Other upset crowd began to hurl abuses at the official.
On the long run, the health official succeeded in pacifying them.
‘Okay, the issue is that the drugs meant to be given out free of charge has finished; you can come back next week. But if you desperately need them, you can just pay a token for the few reserves we have here.’
‘Lies! Oga, you’re telling lies!’ the mob raged, ‘ojoro master! Ojoro!!’
And while a few others made the settlement, Enitan left the place feeling very sad. As he walked back home under the scorching sun, he vowed that he would end up as a medical doctor someday.
‘Enitan, why are you pacing up and down the classroom?’ Mrs. Benson queried the restless boy.
The lad rubbed his buttocks where he had received injections the previous day. The excruciating pains had kept him awake a greater part of the night. Although his troubled father has had to massage the affected area with warm water; the relief was only temporary.
‘Didn’t you hear what I’ve just said?’
‘Oh I’m sorry ma,’ he grimaced, ‘I’ve been feeling pains all over my buttocks because of the injections I received yesterday.
‘From which of the hospitals?’ the concerned lady asked, dropping the chalk on the table.
‘My father didn’t have money to take me to the hospital…so he took me…to one woman, that sells drugs…and she gave me…injection.’
‘It’s a pity,’ she shook her head, ‘Oh God, please provide for the common man. You can go home and come back when you’re better. I wish you good luck.’
‘Thank you ma.’
Enitan walked back home amidst the pains. Luckily for him, his father was at home and so, the duo went back to the patent drug seller only to find to their disappointment that the shop was under locks.
Oshodi, Lagos, Nigeria – Fifteen years later…
The Chief medical director of Awawu General Hospital conducted a young, limping medical doctor around the hospital to meet other personnel of the clinic.
‘It’s my pleasure to introduce our new pediatric doctor to you,’ he smiled, ‘his name is Dr. Enitan Kolawole.’
The excited medical recruit exchanged pleasantries with his new colleagues.
Later that day, as he was busy filling some forms in the children’s ward, he overheard the telephone conversation of one the nurses at the lobby.
‘Hello…I don’t know how to go about it…we now have a new pediatrician and from the look of things, that man, who although limps on one leg, is going to be a very hard nut to crack…yes,
I would get those expired drugs across to you tomorrow…my money…money…comes first…’
Dr. Enitan was dumbfounded. He shoved the files aside in a drawer as the memories of his childhood surged through his mind.
‘Never again!’ he muttered under his breathe, ‘I won’t allow this; not under my nose.
‘Dr. Enitan, you’re taking this your action rather too far,’ Dr. Badmus challenged him one day as they were both leaving the ward to the cafeteria.
‘Sir, I’m only being professional,’ he answered fuming within.
‘I understand I was also like you when I joined this hospital but by the time the pressure grew so much, I had to give up the fight against the medical malpractices going on here.’
‘Sir, do you know how many lives had been sent to early graves on a daily basis as a result of this malpractice?’
‘I know but…’
Hold on sir, I don’t think you know it more than I do.’
‘How do you mean?’
‘Firstly, my mother died during childbirth in the hands of a quack midwife all because my father couldn’t afford to pay her hospital bills…I became semi handicapped at age fifteen on account of the same reason…and in my growing years…sir, I saw injustice being paraded as a norm in most of our public hospitals…’
‘So how long would you take up this crusade?’
‘For as long as I live, Dr. Badmus, it’s no retreat, no surrender…if I can get the support of other like-minded doctors, there would be at least an improvement in our public health sector.’
‘You have my full support, Dr. Enitan,’ Badmus gave him a pat, ‘If we desire a change, then we must be willing to stand up for what we believe in.’