WHY PEOPLE DON'T GO TO HOSPITALS IN NIGERIA

By Hadassah Agbaps - October 26, 2013

Hi people, what's been on?

I've been feeling under the weather of late and have been wondering why.

I'm blessed with the fact that I've never really gone to the hospital for any ailment. Being the daughter of parents in the medical field and practically growing up in a hospital, I never knew what it meant to get sick, go to the hospital or purchase drugs.

Anytime I had to leave home, my dad made sure I didn't lack a months supply of prophylactic drugs to make sure I didn't get sick. If eventually I did, the drugs I needed to get better were within reach and in event of any major illness (which rarely occurred) I was referred to the nearest hospital owned by a friend.
Once in a while I had full medicals done...so, I never really had the whole hospital experience until recently.....


I was feeling really ill and from my symptoms was diagnosed with malaria. I took the recommended drugs, got well but after like two weeks took ill again.
We had lost two members of my extended family to illnesses unknown.
At first there'll be simple complaints like headaches and stomachaches and most times these symptoms will be brushed aside as stress related until it got worse. Then they'll be rushed to the hospital and then it'll be too late...




So, when I complained about feeling feverish and having a cold and cough at the same time, I was put on antibiotics and told to take antimalarial drugs. I was also told that stress might be tampering with my immune system.
Well, that word 'stress'.....how can it be stress when I don't joke with my sleep?! I'm a pretty laid back person....and I don't find it stressful doing what I love doing......I just wasn't going to buy that....especially not after the recent loss.....

I know being part of a medical family and hearing the news of bad hospitals with half baked medical personnel and all, there's this mistrust of 'outside' medical care.
So, without my family knowledge, I decided to find a hospital where I could be diagnosed by someone who wasn't familiar.

My first stop was a newly built government hospital that was turned into a teaching hospital. I went there because I recalled my mum saying 'the governor equipped the hospital well' and I felt that they may want to prove that they give quality healthcare since they're new.....boy was I wrong!

When I got there, I thought I would go to the Laboratory to see if I could get full body tests run...sugar, urea, m.p, widal...everything...so I headed straight there.

The first person I met at the reception (behind the desk) said she wasn't a staff there and pointed at another lady who turned out to be a med lab scientist.
When I asked her if she could run some tests for me, she said I had to see a doc first (that's normal) and that even then, I'll have to wait till Monday for tests to be run...really, so I have to hang on with my fever till Monday? ( I went on Thursday by 11 a.m. when I was strong enough).
Then I asked her to show me where I could make an appointment and she was like "Go to GOPD"....what???

"What is GOPD and where is that?"

She looked at me like I was stupid....then said "General Out Patient Department, go out and you'll see it".

I left with a bad impression...I wasn't used to this kind of ish...I'm a patient...staff are supposed to be nicer...

Anyhoo, I located the GOPD and when I got to the reception, I asked the lady behind the desk how I could see a doctor.

"what's the problem?" she asked

"I'm having a fever", I told her.

"Why are you coming now?"

....I couldn't believe she just asked me such a dumb question!

I was seething...and this time not from the fever. Really....did I come to see Santa Claus....isn't it good enough I was even able to bring my hot butt here at all?!!!!!

"Look, I need to see a doctor now!" I said

"Do you have a card?", she asked me.

"No. How and where can I get one?"

"Go to Accounts"......

Lucky me *drips sarcasm*...Accounts wasn't far.

"I need to get a hospital card", I told the lady behind the window...

"Well, you'll have to find out if a doctor is available to see you before you can pay for a card".

What was she saying???
How can there not be a doctor by 11.35 a.m. in the morning????!!!

I still went back to see the receptionist to ask the silly question

"Is there a doctor?"

" No. " she replied.

"So do you mean to tell me I can't get a card and treatment because there's no doctor?!!"......silence!...which was rude in my opinion.

Then I thought to myself....
Is this what people face when they come to so called "Government Hospitals" to seek medical care?

I was able to come because my fever was just beginning even though my eyes hurt from migraine...point is...I was strong enough to go on a wild goose chase.....what about other people sicker than I was?
Was this what they had to go through to get medical treatment?

No wonder many resort to roadside "pharmacists" and self medication...

I'm pissed I faced this once.....how about the people for whom this is a norm????
What's with government workers and not taking their jobs seriously?!

A lady noticing my frustration suggested I locate a private hospital.
I asked her the names of the top private hospitals available and after she reeled off some names, I went to one I remember my grandma went to for medicals....and discovered that although one would get faster treatment here than the public hospitals, one would also have to pay through their nose for everything....there was money for the hospital card, money for each laboratory test...m.p, widal etc each had a fee and money for each dose of drugs.

When I got to the laboratory and told the lab scientist that in addition to the malaria, typhoid and blood sugar test requested by the doctor...I wanted a more comprehensive test, the combined fee for each test shocked me!

I still needed to do a comprehensive test because the habit of most Nigerian doctors is to diagnose you for malaria or typhoid...most likely malaria....give you the drugs and send you home.
Sometimes they are right....sometimes you are treating the wrong sickness...just because further tests weren't done to get a better, more accurate diagnosis....and by then it's too late.

So I got my personal comprehensive test done apart from the one the doctor requested. I begged the laboratory scientist to be more thorough with her tests...she accomodated me.

Luckily for me, it was just malaria caused by P.falciparum....and a change of antimalarial drugs was recommended.

I took my tests home and after the shock (why did you go to the hospital?which hospital?you'd have told us so we'll call in advance!) and the hurt (didn't I say it's malaria, so you don't think we know what we're doing)...my mum and aunt read my results and pronounced me okay...I read it myself but I just had to be doubly sure!

So, that's it people. I don't like taking my meds but have to...and who doesn't like being babied....hehehe...

Please it's a good idea to have comprehensive medicals done...not because you wish to be sick....but as a preventive measure....and to track changes even as little as low blood sugar or a little extra cholesterol.....

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