Buhari’s Medical Treatment And Matters Arising | Independent Newspapers Limited
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Buhari’s Medical Treatment And Matters Arising

Posted: Jun 12, 2016 at 3:51 am   /   by   /   comments (0)



Muhammadu Buhari, the nation’s President and Commander-In-Chief, is ill and has taken a sick leave to the United Kingdom (UK) to sort out his health issues. He has therefore, transferred his powers to Professor Yemi Osinbajo, the Vice President, for 10 days.

The president, according to reports, is battling a hearing defect, which medical doctors refer to as Endolymphatic Hydrops, also known as a Meniere’s disease. This can impair hearing and may lead to problems with balancing.

However, while some Nigerians had been sympathising with President Buhari over his unfortunate condition, which many attribute to his several foreign trips, some say his frequent flights could have adversely affected the eardrums, more so considering his age. But, the seriousness of his situation could be seen from the fact that sources have indicated that his 10-day sick leave could be extended for a longer period. By the initial arrangement, President Buhari was expected back on Wednesday, June 15, 2016.

But, Nigerians are quarreling with the idea of the Number One citizen having to fly abroad to treat his ears when he had earlier promised that he would discourage medical tourism by government officials and politicians which has been consuming a hefty portion of the nation’s wealth.

Having transferred powers to Vice President Osinbajo, the question in the minds of several Nigeria now is: Will Buhari be able to rectify his ailing ear and return with perfect hearing and balance? Or, will the nation be saddled with a president who may permanently have a hearing defect? This is because ENT experts say that Endolymphatic Hydrops is difficult to cure if the patient is old.

Buhari’s Trip Based On Advice By Abuja ENT Specialist

According to a statement issued by Femi Adesina, Buhari’s Special Adviser on Media, on Sunday June 5, 2016: “During the holiday, he will see an ENT Specialist for a persistent ear infection. The President was examined by his Personal Physician and an ENT Specialist in Abuja, and was treated. He has always been okay. Nothing is wrong with him.

“The president can always devolve duties to his deputy who is the vice president. That’s what the president has done. But in terms of his health, the president is fine.”

Many Nigerians believe that if the government had been serious with the development of infrastructures, the nation’s health sector would not have been in shambles. Rather, officials and members of their families prefer to rush abroad to treat themselves where medical facilities and experts abound instead of investing in the nation’s health sector and institutions. Nigerians also lament the amount being spent on medical tourism when the masses are languishing in squalor, not having much to eat and cannot even take care of their health needs in the face of ravaging diseases and hunger.

However, this particular trip has become a subject of severe criticism, especially as the citizens have been suffering the consequences of a badly neglected health sector, moreso as the president’s health trip would be making a deep cut into the already lean purse of government.

A Tragic Blot On Nigeria’s Image

Dr. Osahon Enabulele, the Vice President, Commonwealth Medical Association, expressed his disappointment at Buhari’s medical trip to London for an Ear, Nose and Throat (ENT) infection, describing it as “a tragic blot on Nigeria’s collective professional and national image.”

Enabulele, former President, Nigerian Medical Association (NMA), condemned frequent medical trips by government officials, saying Nigeria had suffered a great loss to medical tourism in recent past. He said: “I am very constrained to state that this foreign medical trip flies in the face of the Federal Government’s earlier declaration of her resolve to halt the embarrassing phenomenon of outward medical tourism, which as at the end of the year 2013, had led to a humongous capital flight of about $1billion, particularly from expenses incurred by political and public office holders and their accompanying aides, whose foreign medical trips most of which are unnecessary, were financed with tax payers’ resources.”

He maintained that if the government had put the nation’s health sector in order, there would not have been need for President Buhari to have travelled abroad to treat his aliment as there are several ENT experts in the country who could have handled his case, thereby saving the nation the embarrassment and the huge expense of the Number One citizen having to go abroad in search of medical help.

 A Shameful Development, National Embarrassment

Hon. Bola Ajao, the secretary of Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Osun State chapter, in his reaction, said that it is natural and right for anybody that is sick to seek medical attention anywhere in the country and outside. But he quickly added that it is shameful that the president travelled abroad for medical attention after his administration had tried to stop public functionaries from doing so.

Ajao described President Buhari’s medical trip as an indication that the nation does not have a real specialist hospital capable of handling a common ear infection.

He also accused the government of not allowing Nigerians know the true health position of the President. He argued that Nigerians must be carried along and that it is wrong for officials to be hiding the true health condition of their president. He, however, wished Buhari quick recovery and sound health.

Barrister Kanmi Ajibola also described it as an embarrassment for the President a to have travelled abroad for 10 days “for common ear infection” which could be handled locally. He asked: “Does that mean that our National Hospital in Abuja cannot handle the ailment? It shows that in terms of medical equipment and hospital, we are not there yet.”

He however charged the government at all levels to redouble their efforts at ensuring that the nation’s hospitals are well equipped for the development of the country.

 Buhari Violating The Ban On Medical Tourism

Asmau Kabiru, a nurse, lamented that President Buhari travelled abroad  to seek medical help for mere ear problems, even when he had openly told Nigerians about his resolve to end medical tourism, with emphasis on his anti-corruption crusade as that had been one of the ways government officials use public funds for personal gains.

Kabiru said: “It is unfortunate that Buhari who is believed to be incorruptible is not just corrupt, but has enmeshed himself in this kind of contradictions. This goes to show his true self. Come to think of it, does it mean that none of the ENT doctors we have here in Nigeria today is not capable or qualified to treat mere ear ailment?

“With what Buhari, did he will have no moral justification to punish any government official found violating the ban on medical tourism abroad. Besides, we hear that three of his ministers are sick and are also on medical trip abroad.

“It is laughable to hear. But then, I think Nigerians are beginning to know in truth the government they voted for and what will likely happen in the next three years when the administration would be rounding off.”

Hypocrisy In High Places

Comrade Igbini Emmanuel, National President of Vanguard for Transparent Leadership and Democracy (VATLAD)  stated that if the truth must be told, President Buhari has a moral burden in his recent health trip.

According to him, “I agree with the view not to expend Nigeria’s hard earned resources on any government official seeking medical care abroad when such can be handled in Nigeria. He maintained that “it may be too harsh to describe President Buhari’s action as an example of the ‘Hypocrisy in high places’, considering the magnitude of the health challenge of our dear President.

“But, when he comes back hail and very hearty, then we shall fire him with even harsher questions and know what his response will be.

“Beyond this is the need for President Buhari and the rest of Nigerians to give very serious consideration and approval to our resolution that we should establish hybrid healthcare systems all over our beloved country, new Nigeria.

“I think we once had one Prof. Lambo or so who believed so much in this and promoted it in government. The world knows the super healing powers of natural herbs and roots. In health issues like this, I am sure there are natural cures through herbs and roots.

“Mr. President should have tried to explore this option. Is it not the same reason that all this herbal medicines and treatments are now widely sought after when ‘Oyinbo’ clinical remedies fail?

“Why do increasing number of people around the globe now embrace all this Forever Living products and many others like that and roots products from China, etc? Interestingly enough, they are even more expensive, but very effective in some cases.

“A 230ml of Natural Omega-3 syrup cost over N13,000. We must therefore urgently encourage and finance our natural medicare practitioners and researchers to improve and expand their knowledge and practices. We must also go back to the vast knowledge of our forefathers on this issue.”

Buhari’s Ailment Not A Big Deal, But…

Chief Tony Ezeagwu, the Chairman of Labour Party (LP) in Delta State maintained that it is no big deal for the president to be ill, as he is human. According to him, that a man is a president does not mean that he cannot be ill.

He wondered why Nigerians should be making mountain out of a mole hill for people to say that because a man a president, he cannot go out and seek solution to his health problems. He told those who harbour ill feelings against Mr. President over his health trip that nobody is above the issues of sickness.

Ezeagwu maintained that even a new born baby can fall sick, warning that nobody should make an issue out of President Buhari’s ear problems.

He advised Nigerians to face the challenges on ground and tackle them squarely instead of wasting precious time on a matter that is not meaningful.

However, Barrister  Osim  Jones, Executive Director, Advocate Centre, faulted President Buhari  for his  inability to trust local medical practitioners  to handle his ENT condition. Osim who spoke to Independent in Jos, said that Buhari’s trip to UK shows that he does not trust Nigerian medical doctors many of who are ENT specialists

He maintained that Nigeria has a lot of ENT experts who are capable of handling Buhari’s condition, wondering why he should incur huge expense of public fund to treat his ear abroad.

According to him, Buhari’s ear problem might not be a new case, but an ailment that he had been managing for some time and if so, he wondered why he had to go to UK this time around when ENT cases could be handled locally.

Osim stressed that the choice for overseas medical treatment by Nigerian leaders, present and past, had been sending wrong signals to the rest of Nigerians that the masses of this country had been left to the mercy of local doctors and hospitals for medical attention, describing it as one of the reasons why Nigerian hospitals lack drugs and facilities for the treatment of the sick.

He therefore called on the Buhari administration to lead this country by good examples of what are expected of leaders so that the rest Nigerians can emulate them.

According to him, the fact that three serving ministers in President Buhari’s government had also travelled out of this country for treatment overseas at the same time was regrettable, insisting that something must be done very fast to correct the anomalies at the federal level of government.